At least five people were killed after the small plane they were in crashed near the Bloomington, Ill. airport while returning from the NCAA basketball national championship game in Indianapolis, reports the Chicago Tribune.
The plane left the Indianapolis airport around 11 p.m. local time, shortly after Duke defeated Wisconsin 68-63 in the national title game on Monday night.
The plane hit heavy fog when it reached central Illinois, said Scott Barrows, who was the father-in-law of the owner of the plane, Scott Bittner. Bittner was among the crash’s victims.
“My daughter’s husband and three other men and the pilot went to the NCAA game last night and they were flying back and I guess the weather was bad in central Illinois. It was foggy,” said Barrows, a former UIC faculty member.
“They were supposed to land around midnight. My daughter was called at 4 a.m. There was no contact,” he said. “It has been confirmed they are dead.”
Barrows said his son owned the plane but had a regular pilot. “They had a pilot, he was very experienced,” he said.
Bittner, 42, had two children, a boy and a girl ages 10 and 12. He owned a meat processing company in downstate Eureka, according to his father-in-law.
Bittner grew up in Chenoa and met his wife Carrie at Illinois State University in Bloomington-Normal. They married after she graduated.
“She’s in shock, obviously,” said Barrows, who was a clinical assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center and currently lives in Virginia.
“It’s going to be tough, but we’ll be there for them,” he said. “I’ll be there for our grandchildren.”