TAUNTON—Two people killed in a plane crash early this morning at Taunton Municipal Airport have been tentatively identified tonight by the Bristol district attorney’s office as John Schmouth, 69, of Brockton, who was the pilot, and Roland Deslauriers, 61, of Bridgewater.
“Although next of kin notifications have been made and investigators believe they have identified both victims, the confirmed identities of the two victims will not officially be known until the Medical Examiner’s Office conducts autopsies on the remains,” said spokesman Gregg Miliote in a statement.
Authorities had not immediately named the victims, saying that it would be necessary to use dental records to positively identify them.
Taunton police received a call at 6:38 a.m. reporting a plane had crashed at the airport, according to Taunton police Lieutenant Robert Casey.
The plane was attempting to take off when it went down near Westcoat Drive, the roadway leading to the airport, according to authorities. No one on the ground was injured.
Keith Holloway, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said the plane was an Aeronca 7AC, a type of small plane introduced in 1945 that has a front propeller and a wide, continuous wing over the fuselage. Holloway said the plane that crashed was built in 1946cq but only recently purchased by the owner. He said investigators would inspect maintenance records for the aircraft, examine the wreckage for evidence of mechanical issues, and seek radar data that might show its trajectory.
James Madigan, a commissioner with the Taunton Municipal Airport Commission, said he arrived at the scene around 6:30 a.m., shortly after the crash, and found the Taunton Fire Department extinguishing flames.
The fire had destroyed the plane’s identification number, he said, and made it impossible to determine what type of aircraft it was.
“It’s all burnt up,” he said.
He said it was necessary to remove the plane’s wings to pull out the bodies.
“There isn’t much to the aircraft,” he said. “It’s a fabric-covered aircraft.”
For such planes, he said, there is no requirement to file a flight plan or sign in and out of the airport, which has complicated efforts to identify the dead.
“It’s just like you get in your car and drive. You don’t have to tell anybody where you’re going,” he said.
Madigan said the crash is the only fatal accident at the airfield that he could recall.
Taunton Mayor Thomas Hoye Jr. who was at the airport this morning called the gully where the plane crashed “a tragic scene.”
“The plane was dismantled,” he said.
Hoye could not say what the cause of the accident was.
“At this point it just looks like a horrible accident, just a terrible tragedy,” he said.
Local and State Police as well as the fire department, the state medical examiner, the FAA, and MassDOT Aeronautics are investigating. These agencies will coordinate the investigation with the National Transportation Safety Board.