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Pilot killed after crashing into Whitehall water tower ID’d

Posted: 12:34 PM, Sep 09, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-09 12:35:19-04

WHITEHALL, Mich. — A 79-year-old man died Monday after crashing a single-engine plane into a water tower near Whitehall’s football fields.

The crash happened around 11:42 a.m. next to the fields located at Warner and Alice streets.

Upon arrival, crews saw heavy smoke and flames coming from the plane and began work to put the fire out. The pilot was the only person on the plane. Investigators said the man was from east of Whitehall, and have identified him as James Laird.

The plane took off about 45 minutes before the crash from Fremont Municipal Airport. At this point, there aren’t any indications of what caused the plane to crash, and witnesses reported seeing the plane flying on a level path at a consistent speed and direction.

Local officials are waiting for the Federal Aviation Administration to arrive to conduct their own investigation into the crash.

The City of Whitehall has shut off the portion of the water system connected to the water tower that was hit out of caution. Officials said there is no indication of structural damage and there will be tests  conducted on the water and tower.

**Correction: Investigators originally said the victim was 80 years old, but have since clarified he was 79.**