4 CWRU students killed when plane crashes in Willoughby Hills on takeoff from Cuyahoga Co. Airport

3 students were on wrestling team

WILLOUGHBY HILLS, Ohio - UPDATE: A witness to the crash submitted the video above to newsnet5.com to use with permission.

Original story follows.

Four Case Western Reserve University students were killed when a Cessna 172 crashed in Willoughby Hills in Lake County, inches from the county line near the Cuyahoga County Airport Monday night.

The pilot was 20-year-old William Michael Felten of Saginaw, Michigan. He was joined by 20-year-old Lucas Vincent Marcelli of Massillon; 18-year-old Abraham Pishevar of Rockville, Maryland; 18-year-old John Hill of St. Simons, Georgia. 

Counseling services were being made available to CWRU students.

Louis Stark, vice president for Student Affairs at Case Western Reserve University said university officials are letting students know they are willing to help them.

"We ache for the parents of these young men and for all their loved ones. We also feel deep sympathy for their roommates and friends on campus. We recognize nothing will ease the pain of a sudden, senseless death," Stark said.

Three of the students, Marcelli, Pishevar and Hill, were on the wrestling team at CWRU

"We are coping and mourning and trying to figure how we can go on from losing three of our teammates, three of our family," said  Mark Hawald.

Felton and Marcelli also were active in Greek Life on campus as members of the Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity.

“We are deeply saddened by this tragedy and the loss of four young men. Our thoughts and prayers go with the families of the victims and the entire Case Western Reserve University community,” said Laurence A. Bolotin, CAE, Alpha Zeta (University of Florida) ’01.

CWRU President Barbara R. Snyder to the campus community:

To the Case Western Reserve Community:

I write with profound sadness to inform you that we believe the four individuals killed in last night's local plane crash were undergraduates at our university. We are waiting for official confirmation of their identities by law enforcement, but the information we have secured to date provides us relative certainty. We have notified the parents of the young people involved, and representatives from University Counseling Services are working closely with their roommates and close friends. The counseling office will have walk-in hours all day today for those who wish to speak with someone about this tragedy.

We will provide additional updates as soon as possible. For now, please join me in extending our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of these students.


Barbara R. Snyder


The Plane Crash

The crash happened at around 10 p.m. at Bishop Road and Curtiss Wright Parkway at the northeast corner of the airport after the plane took off on Runway 6. 

The plane had just taken off when it crashed. Authorities said that Felten, the pilot, asked for permission to turn back just after taking off.

Bishop Road reopened at Tuesday afternoon after it was closed for several hours following the crash. NTSB investigators were at the scene Tuesday afternoon.

The Cessna plane will be removed from the site by evening. While the preliminary accident report could be released in five days, the cause of the crash will not be included and the full investigation could take upwards of a year.

Tyler Evans was driving down Bishop Road when he saw the crash.

"It took off, it stalled, went up hooked and then it went down and crashed over here," he said.

Neighbors reported the plane sounded like it was having trouble before it crashed.

"We heard the propeller, like you could here that something was wrong with it," said Ruzanna Tovmasyan who then heard the crash. "All of us were running towards the airplane trying to help but the flames got even worse, I just thank God that it didn't land on our house," she said.

Another neighbor Mark Gerald also heard the engine sputtering.

"Kind of like a backfiring sound, like the engine was trying to quit," he said. "You knew there was something wrong with the motor no question. We hear these planes all day long."

Gerald yelled for his son to call 911 then ran towards the wreckage.

"I probably got about halfway there—boom, the fuel tank went. I got up really as close as I can but it was just too hot, too involved, there was nothing I could do."

In April of 2009, a plane carrying two attorneys from Buffalo crashed just after takeoff from this airport, killing both men.

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