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Three killed in plane crash in northwest suburban Riverwoods

Riverwoods 11/29/11 National Transportation Safety Board inspector Ed Malinowski examines the site of the plane crash at 668 Portwine Road in Riverwoods on Tuesday, November 29, 2011. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media

Three people were killed and two others were injured when a small plane crashed Monday night in northwest suburban Riverwoods after the pilot reported fuel problems, officials said.

The Piper Navajo aircraft crashed around 10:50 p.m. near Portwine and Orange Brace roads, said Elizabeth Isham Cory, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Emergency crews quickly extinguished a small fire they found upon arrival and found two people in the plane dead at the scene, said Battalion Chief Scott Knesley of the Lincolnshire Riverwoods Fire Protection District.

Two others were taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville and another person was taken to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, officials said. An official of Trans North Aviation Limited, which owns the plane, said he was told one person died on the way to the hospital.

Five people were on the twin-engine plane, which left Jesup-Wayne County Airport in Jesup, Ga., Cory said.

The plane was en route to Chicago Executive Airport in Prospect Heights when it crashed about five miles north of the suburban airport, Cory said.

A medical patient was being transported on the flight. Aside from the patient, others on the plane were a pilot, a pilot-trainee, a flight paramedic and the patient’s wife, said Ron Schaberg, owner and president of Trans North Aviation Limited.

The patient and his wife were returning to their home in the Chicago area, Schaberg said.

Prior to the crash, the plane’s pilot was in contact with officials at Chicago Executive Airport to report a fuel problem.

There were no reported injuries on the ground, Cory said. The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation, with the FAA and local authorities assisting.

The plane was registered out of Eagle River, Wisc. to Trans North Aviation Limited, Corey said. FAA records show the plane was built in 1975.

The plane had undergone a major inspection less than a week ago, Schaberg said