Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Local News

November 28, 2012

Stormy Cherokee County skies contribute to plummeting of plane

Federal authorities currently investigating the cause of the crash

CHEROKEE COUNTY — John Thomas "Tom" Steeper apparently struggled with the twin-engine Cessna he was flying Monday night, attempting to maneuver it away from the stormy skies above Cherokee County.

But there was no escaping the weather.

The aircraft – which  the 64-year-old was navigating from West Houston Airport to Tulsa Riverside Airport in Oklahoma –  vanished from both radar and radio contact about 9:30 p.m.

As it plummeted to earth, the Cessna created a spectacle some Cherokee County witnesses likened to television reporters as a "huge orange glow" in the sky.

The airplane crashed – explosively – just outside the city of Wells, killing Steeper, who was the only occupant of the of the Cessna 421C Golden Eagle.

Search and rescue crews located the wreckage of an aircraft late Monday evening in a field outside Wells.

According to a report issued by the Aviation Safety Network – but not yet verified by the Federal Aviation Administration –  the airplane impacted terrain in the field near Wells and is believed to have been destroyed by both the impact and post-impact fire.

The cause of the crash was under investigation Tuesday by FAA  investigators, to whom the Texas Department of Public Safety have handed over the reins of the investigation, said Trooper Jean Dark, Texas DPS public information officer.

"They will review the flight plan and determine any detailed information – such as if there were mechanical or lighting issues with the aircraft," she said.

The aircraft left the Houston area at 8:41 p.m. Monday and was supposed to arrive at its destination roughly two hours later, according to FlightAware, a  tracking website.

 Steeper, a Broken Arrow, Okla., resident, has held a private license's certification since 2008.  The aircraft he was in was listed in the FAA Registry as "H-S Air LP," which is a cancelled domestic limited partnership connected to a management trust of which Steeper was a co-trustee, records show.

Records also show Steeper,  a licensed professional engineer, was connected in some fashion to ECSI: Engineering and Consulting Services, Inc., of Broken Arrow. ECSI's phone number was listed on his professional license.

A person who answered this number hung up on a reporter seeking comment Tuesday.

The FAA investigators, meanwhile, are part of a team led by the National Transportation Safety Board, which is in charge of all fatal aircraft accident investigations, explained Terry Williams, an NTSB public affairs officer.

"We sent an investigator from our Chicago office, and he arrived there this afternoon," Williams said Tuesday. "There also are parties from CESNA, the aircraft manufacturer, and also Continental Motors participating in the investigation. ... We don't expect to have any results before at least tomorrow."

Text Only
Local News
  • Father Mark 3.tif Godspeed, Father

    The news that Father Mark Kusmirek would leave Jacksonville to accept a new assignment Aug. 1 in Longview spread quickly around town this month.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Alto City Council examines gas line issue

    City leaders have started looking into the process of moving a gas line that runs from Alto through Wells along U.S. Hwy. 69 to meet requirements of TxDOT, which is widening the road through the city.

    July 26, 2014

  • Proposed JISD budget to get hearing date

    Jacksonville school board members will meet Monday evening for a combination budget workshop, regular board meeting and a summer board retreat, according to an JISD meeting agenda.

    July 26, 2014

  • County leaders to consider backhoe purchase

    Cherokee County Commissioners' Court will meet in regular session 10 a.m. Monday in the County Courtroom in the County Courthouse to consider approval of a backhoe purchase through a cooperative purchasing exchange for Precinct 2.

    July 26, 2014

  • Sheriff's officials bust Mixon steroid lab

    About 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 24., investigators and deputies with the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office executed a search warrant at a residence on FM 3052 in the Mixon Community near Bullard.

    July 25, 2014

  • UPDATE: County co-op says many customers may not have power until Friday

    July 24, 2014

  • Old Jville Bearden Store.tif Longtime furniture store changes hands

    For the better part of a century, Bearden Furniture Co., Inc., has been the go-to place for local residents wanting to beautify their home.
    Furniture and accessories, carpeting, window treatments – even electronics at one point – were offered at the Commerce Street store, but on July 1, the family who started Bearden's sold the company to Louisiana-based Ivan Smith Furniture company.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Athens woman confesses to killing daughter

    A 25-year-old mother is in the Henderson County Jail after telling authorities that she had killed her four-year-old daughter, Monday

    July 24, 2014

  • Bullard: District names Jan Hill as deputy superintendent

    Bullard Independent School District is proud to announce Jan Hill as Deputy Superinten-dent. Hill will assume the new role effective immediately.

    July 24, 2014

  • ‘Christmas in July’ drive benefits area foster children

    Sure, December is still more than five months away, but Cherokee County residents are getting the chance to start spreading some holiday cheer a little early this year during the annual Christmas in July donation drive, benefitting the county's Rainbow Room.

    July 24, 2014