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
  • Cuney Council cancels meeting, again

    Tuesday's Cuney City Council meeting – in which local alderman were to vote on canceling a May 10 election due to unopposed status of candidates – was canceled because of a lack of quorum, according to City Secretary Brenda Lankford.

    April 23, 2014

  • Sen. Nichols speaking.tif Senator Nichols speaks to Jacksonville Leadership Institute

    State Senator Robert Nichols (R) spoke to the Jacksonville Leadership Institute Tuesday regarding the role of government in Texas.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jacob.tif Local boy recovering from campfire accident in Dallas hospital

    Jacob Sessions of Jacksonville was burned on 71 percent of his body on April 5 from a campfire accident. He is currently in Parkland ICU due to his injuries, according to a representative for the family.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • THOMPSON, CEDRICK.tif Cherokee County woman found dead

    At approximately 9:35 a.m. Sunday,  Kayla Nicole Thompson, 27, was found deceased in the driveway of her residence, located in the 1500 block of County Road 3201,  just West of Lake Jacksonville.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • BullardFUNRUN.tif Bullard Education Foundation sets record with event

    The Bullard Education Foundation hosted its 4th annual 5K /Fun Run, “Strides for Excellence” on Saturday morning, April 19.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fire destroys Sims Avenue residence

    Jacksonville Fire Department responded to a fire in the 900 block of Sims Avenue early Saturday.

    April 22, 2014

  • Community library on council agenda

    The Bullard City Council will met at 6 p.m. today at Bullard First Baptist Church, 1428 S. Houston, for the regular board meeting.

    April 22, 2014

  • Council to mull election, roads

    The Cuney City Council will meet at 10 a.m. today at the Cuney Municipal Building.

    April 22, 2014

  • Christian Rapper 0419.tif Local rap artist spreads the 411 on Jesus

    "I have seen things in my life that would make Dr. Phil crazy," Jacksonville native, ordained minister and aspiring rap artist Stephen I. Crow Jr. said with a laugh. "That's why I don't label my music specifically as "Christian rap" -- yes, Christians who love rap can listen and hopefully be uplifted, but I truly want and am trying to bring the word and Jesus' message to people who may never have heard it or don't believe it's for them.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tomato Bowl flushed to bottom of priorities

    The historic Tomato Bowl, built in 1940, stands strong on the outside, but according to some people the inside needs a lot of work in order to not be an eyesore.

    April 19, 2014