West Monroe businessman Dean Hart Sr., three others die in plane crash
by Zach Parker - posted Thursday, January 24th, 2013 @ 5:29 pm
A fixed wing single-engine aircraft carrying West Monroe businessman Dean Hart Sr. and three others nose-dived into a wooded area behind Ouachita Correctional Center near Richwood Thursday, claiming the lives of all onboard.
Ouachita Parish Sheriff Jay Russell said the plane crashed in a wooded area about 300 yards behind OCC.
"According to the manifest, there were four passengers on board, including the pilot," Russell said. "There were no survivors."
Besides Hart, Max Larche of Bastrop and Don Thompson of Monroe were on the plane. The identity of the fourth person was not known late Thursday.
Hart owned Hart Commercial Investments. Larche was an engineer with Lazenby & Associates of West Monroe. They had been in Beaumont, Texas for a business meeting and were returning to Monroe.
A control tower at Monroe Regional Airport received a transmission from a single engine aircraft at about 1:45 p.m. when the pilot requested landing clearance. At 1:49 p.m., the aircraft disappeared from the control tower radar.
The crash site is located off of Brown Street in Richwood about four miles south of the airport.
"We set up a command center and notified the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration," Russell said. "We're waiting on them to arrive and take over the investigation."
Lynn Lunsford, Mid-States Public Affairs Manager for the FAA released a statement, saying FAA investigators were en route to the crash site.
"Preliminary information indicates that the plane was flying from Beaumont, Texas, to Monroe when it crashed for unknown reasons while on final approach to the Monroe airport," Lunsford said.
Lunsford identified the aircraft as a Beechcraft Bonanza. The aircraft was owned by Central Flying Service Inc., a company located out of Little Rock, Ark. It was manufactured by Raytheon Aircraft Company.
Deputies working at OCC responded first with officials from the Sheriff's Office, Louisiana State Police and Richwood Police Department. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries responded shortly thereafter.
Russell said the plane was on fire when law enforcement officials found it but the Ouachita Fire Department and Monroe Fire Department responded and extinguished the fire.
Given the density of the wooded area surrounding the crash site, response crews had to access the crash site on foot and using ATVs.
Russell said response crews even had to crawl on hands and knees to access the site, carrying multiple fire extinguishers to the site.
Return to The Ouachita Citizen online or pick up the Thursday, Jan. 31 print edition for more on this developing story.