BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- The first emergency responders on the scene of a fatal plane crash in central Pennsylvania that killed six Rhode Island residents saw no signs of ice on the wreckage, according to a preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The report released Friday also states that crash investigators found the plane's deicing controls in the ''on" position.
The small plane carrying members of two Rhode Island families to a son's lacrosse game at Penn State crashed March 26, killing all six people on board. The turboprop plane went down nose-first in Benner Township just outside Bellefonte, the Centre County seat.
However, ice still has not been ruled out as a contributing factor to the accident, several aviation specialists said.
''When an airplane comes to a screeching halt, the ice comes right off," Arthur Wolk, a Philadelphia attorney who specializes in airplane crash litigation, told the Centre Daily Times in Pennsylvania. ''You'll find most planes that were involved in icing-related accidents . . . don't have ice on them."
The plane might have stalled or had another type of engine failure, Wolk said.
Killed were the pilot, Jeffrey Jacober, 51; his wife, Karen, 49; their son, Eric, 15; Jeffrey Jacober's friend Gregg Weingeroff, 49; his wife, Dawn; and their son, Leland, 10.
The families had been on vacation in Florida and were headed to State College to watch Jacober's 21-year-old son, Michael, play in a Penn State lacrosse game.
Two weather advisories about possible light icing were in effect that afternoon but they weren't severe warnings, said Erik Rigler, a crash investigator in San Antonio.
The NTSB investigation probably will focus on whether the plane's deicing equipment was working and whether the pilot knew about the icing conditions, said Rigler, whose company, G Force Inc., looks into airplane accidents.
Paul Cox, the NTSB investigator handling the case, has said that the federal investigation may take up to a year. A more thorough report is expected to be complete in four to six months.