KOMU 8 Digital Staffr

OSAGE BEACH − Two people were killed and another person was injured in a small plane crash in Osage Beach Thursday afternoon. 

Police identified the victims as Hayden Ritchhart, 22, of Carrollton, and Evan Vandiver, 19, of Richmond. Gary Vandiver, 54, also of Richmond, was seriously injured.

The Osage Beach Police Department received a report around noon of a possible downed aircraft that had taken off from Lee C. Fine Airport in Brumley, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. 

Police said a witness saw the plane take off and apparently crash shortly after. Investigators believe Ritchhart was flying the plane.

“Our 911 center received the call from a driver that was traveling on Osage Beach Parkway,” Osage Beach police Lt. Mike O’Day told KY3. “[The caller] said he saw a plane that looked like it was going to crash and indicated that the plane that was going forward toward Margaritaville. Several agencies came to the area and started searching for the plane.”

The aircraft, a Piper PA-28, was located in a wooded area southeast of 1252 Route KK, near U.S. Highway 54, according to Osage Beach police.

MSHP asked drivers to avoid the area.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have been notified of the crash. Osage Beach police said both agencies have investigators en route to the site. 

A spokesperson for the NTSB said the investigator will be on scene Friday to document the crash site and plane and to gather witness statements and any surveillance video, as well as flight tracks or radar data.

The wreckage will eventually be recovered and removed to an offsite facility for further analysis.

The spokesperson said a preliminary report will be available in two to three weeks, and the final report will identify a probable cause and any contributing factors and will be available in 12 to 24 months.