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Put-in-Bay News

Small Airplane Crashes in Lake Erie near Miller Ferry dock


PUT-IN-BAY -- Just before noon, a small gray Cessna crashed in to Lake Erie, near the Put-in-Bay Miller Ferry dock. Ferry Capt. The pilot and three passengers were pulled to safety by Miller Ferry deckhands. The 1977 gray Cessna's pilot was attempting a landing on runway 03 at the Put-in-Bay airport about a half-mile away and was making his final turn when the aircraft experienced a loss of power.

The pilot, Mark Neal, 61, of Westland, Mich., attempted to restart the aircraft several times unsuccessfully and made the decision to land the aircraft on the water. Neal turned the aircraft toward the oncoming Miller Ferry and landed the aircraft approximately 150 feet from ferry's pier. Neal and the two rear passengers exited by the left side door and the right front passenger was pulled from the aircraft by the pilot through the luggage hatch.

The Cessna sank in 22 feet of water. Neal was not injured. Amber McClure, 21, of Detroit, was a rear-seat passenger and had a bruised shoulder. Michael Ready, 67, of Westland, Michigan, was a rear-seat passenger and was not injured. Ashley Braunstein, 21, of Detroit, was a front seat passenger and was not injured.

The FAA responded to the scene and is investigating the crash. The U.S. Coast Guard, the Ohio Division of Watercraft, and the Put-in-Bay Police Boat, all responded to the scene. Friday night, Rescue Marine, of Marblehead, Ohio, was on the scene and handling the recovery of the aircraft. The Put-in-Bay Police Department and Fire Department also responded to the scene to contain any fuel and oil spills.

Put-in-Bay is a popular vacation spot just 2 miles offshore of mainland Northwest Ohio in Lake Erie. While "Put-in-Bay" is technically the name of the village on South Bass Island, the name commonly is inadvertently used to refer to the entire island. A summer resort since the mid-1800's, the village can be considered the hub of tourism among the Lake Erie Islands, with its numerous taverns, wineries, restaurants, waterfront condos, rental homes, and hotels.