by: Rachel Van Gilder

SHELBY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — At least two people were killed when a small plane crashed near Oceana County Airport Friday evening, police said, though they were still working to confirm the number of victims because the crash left a mess of wreckage in the woods.

It happened around 6:15 p.m. near a home on 102nd Avenue south of W. Buchanan Road in Shelby Township, east of the village of Shelby. Police said the single-engine plane took off from the Oceana County Airport, about a mile and a half northwest of the crash site.

Michigan State Police Sgt. Ben Bordner said the resident of the home called 911. The people in the plane were dead by the time emergency responders arrived.

“We think probably two (victims) but we don’t know how many at this point, unfortunately, based on how severe the crash is,” Bordner said.

“It appears that when the plane came down, it went through the trees and the plane broke apart pretty bad,” he added. “The plane and everything is scattered throughout the woods back there.”

MSP released a photo from the scene showing the twisted debris of part of the plane. One official described the scene to News 8 as “very gruesome.”

“It’s going to take a while for us to determine how many folks are back there,” Bordner said. “So we have the medical examiner that’s coming out to help us with that.”

Troopers were still working to identify the people killed.

It’s not yet clear what caused the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration was expected to have a crew at the scene Saturday to investigate. Bordner said troopers had not found the plane’s black box as of Friday evening, nor could he even confirm it had one.