The FAA and NTSB are investigating a small plane crash that occurred Tuesday afternoon in rural Waterloo.
The plane, a 1976 Piper PA-32 Cherokee Lance flying from Alabama to Cahokia, was carrying three people — pilot Michael Stodard, 62, of Fairhope, Ala., his wife Angel, 61, and their 4-year-old grandson. All survived.
At about 2:45 p.m., local residents Kyle Blanchard and Ross Goessling were heading south toward Waterloo. At the same time, off-duty Waterloo Police Department Sgt. Trin Daws was headed north toward his home at Gilmore Lake and Floraville roads, where his wife, Cathy, was outside raking leaves. Tom Falk was out in his Waterloo Lumber delivery truck and Mark Fortman was poking around for deer antlers.
“I saw the plane and it looked like it was flying low and gliding,” Daws said. “I lost sight of it and when I came around the corner on Gilmore Lake Road I saw it had crashed and was upside down.”
Goessling and Blanchard were heading to their respective homes in Maeystown after finishing up their work day in Smithton.
“I saw the plane and I said, ‘That plane’s way too low,’” Blanchard said. “It looked like it was trying to land on the road. When we made a left turn on Waterloo Road we could see it upside down right by the road.”
The Dawses, Blanchard and Goessling were all on the scene within a minute of the crash. Goessling and Cathy Daws called 911. Blanchard and Daws ran toward the plane. That’s when they heard a baby’s cries.
“When we heard the child crying, we busted two windows out of the side of the plane,” Daws said.
Falk, who had been driving past in a Waterloo Lumber Co. truck with a forklift on it, quickly unloaded to lift and drove it to the plane. Blanchard crawled in and used his shoulder to push up on the little boy to he could unbuckle him from his carseat.
“I let him fall onto me and handed him to (Trin),” he said.
Falk used the forklift to lift the wing just enough for the men to get the baby out. Trin Daws passed the 4-year-old to his wife.
The pilot was airlifted by Survival Flight medical helicopter to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis and the passenger was transported there by ambulance. A second ambulance took the toddler to St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
The wreckage was left overnight on the Daws property, awaiting arrival of investigators and a reclamation team.
Read more on this story in this week’s newspaper.