SEWARD -- Two people died Saturday in a plane crash just off the Seward Municipal Airport runway.

A pilot and a flight instructor took off from the airport just south of the city near Nebraska 15 at about 9:30 a.m. Someone in the parking lot of a nearby Walmart saw the two-seat plane go down, Seward City Administrator Brett Baker said, and called emergency crews.

Investigators found both the pilot and the flight instructor dead in a cornfield about a thousand feet north of the runway, Baker said.

First responders blocked off Fletcher Road, just north of the airport. 

An investigator from the Federal Aviation Administration which investigates all plane accidents, was at the scene. An inspector from the National Safety Transportation Board was expected Monday morning.

Erin Kochivar, 21, a fourth-year seminary student at Saint Gregory the Great, which is north of the airport, heard the crash at about 9:45 a.m.

"I went out for a little walk and I saw a plane taking off. It started banking off to the left and I heard a whomp and that was it."

Kochivar estimated the plane might have been 500 yards from him when it appeared to go down in a cornfield.

"I trotted farther out in the field to see if I could see where it crashed," he said.

He didn't see any fire or smoke and didn't hear any more noise until he heard police sirens about 10-15 minutes after the crash.

The Seward County Sheriff's Department, the Seward Police Department, Seward Fire and Rescue and Nebraska State Patrol all helped at the scene.

Officials had not released the names of the two people on board as of Sunday evening.

Reach Art Hovey at 402-473-7223 or Reach Mitch Smith at 402-473-2655 or



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