The pilot of a single-engine plane is dead after his aircraft crashed near Anderson Falls in eastern Bartholomew County, officials said.

Pilot Ren Sagaert of Shelby Township, Michigan, the only occupant of the Temco Swift plane, was taking off from a nearby grass airstrip. Sagaert, 77, was pronounced dead at the scene by Coroner Clayton Nolting.

An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday.

Neighbor Jim Fritsche saw the plane, believed to be a 1940s model, land. Later, after Fritsche had done some yard work, he heard the engine start, then heard it cut out followed by a “big bang,” he said.

Fritsche said he did not see the crash because of the trees.

The 911 call came in at 12:52 p.m.

The air strip the pilot was using is owned by Mike Williams, who works on plane engines. Planes fly into the airstrip, get their engines worked on and fly out.

The aircraft was spotted upside down in tree line near 20950 E. County Road 200N.

Plane crash map
Plane crash map

There was no fire, according to officials. The plane had a 56-gallon fuel capacity, and there was some leakage. Fire officials took steps to prevent the fuel from going into Clifty Creek.

Authorities are marking off a perimeter around the debris field and are awaiting the arrival of the Federal Aviation Administration.

 

This story will be updated.