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Family from western Kansas killed in Tennessee plane crash

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, at 9:52 a.m.
  • Updated Monday, March 3, 2014, at 7:01 a.m.

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Four members of a prominent Pawnee County farm family were killed Monday when their plane crashed near a YMCA in Bellevue, Tenn.

Glenn and Elaine Mull, their daughter, Amy Harter, and granddaughter, Sami Harter, were aboard a twin-engine Gulfstream 690C aircraft that crashed shortly before 5 p.m. Monday about 15 miles from Nashville, Lori Gibson, a family spokeswoman, said Tuesday.

The plane had taken off earlier that afternoon from Great Bend Municipal Airport bound for John C. Tune Airport in West Nashville. The family was headed to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association convention and trade show at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville.

Glenn Mull, the pilot, 62, was the owner of Mid-Kansas Agri Co. and Mull’s Farms and Feeding, a feed yard near Pawnee Rock. Elaine Mull was 63, Amy Harter was 40, and Sami Harter was 16, according to authorities.

Gibson read a statement to The Eagle, saying, “In light of this tragedy, the family is in the process of coming to terms with the shock of this loss – and also addressing the immediate needs and concerns of the employees, business and community.”

An additional statement was later read by Jeanine Haynes, Glenn Mull’s sister, during a teleconference call among employees, family and media.

“On Monday evening just outside Nashville, Tenn., our family suffered a horrific loss with the deaths of Glenn and Elaine, their daughter, Amy, and granddaughter, Samantha,” Haynes said. “The tremendous void left in the ashes of the crash will be a stinging reminder in the days to come of the ones taken too soon.”

Haynes described her missing family members as “the very thread that weaved the heartbeat of this family” and said that each individually represented “love, humility and generosity.”

In the statement, Haynes said Mull’s family of employees should not expect to lose employment “or any business plans to be thwarted due to their tragic passing. Immediate efforts are being finalized (to) cover the day-to-day responsibilities that Glenn, Elaine and Amy shouldered.”

She also said the surviving Mull family members are asking for privacy.

“My heart goes out to the entire Mull family during this difficult time,” U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said in a statement. “Glenn was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. Both he and his wife Elaine were well-known for their generous spirit and commitment to improving Pawnee County.

“Glenn, Elaine, their daughter Amy and granddaughter Samantha will be greatly missed. I ask all Kansans to join me in keeping their family and friends in our thoughts and prayers during the days ahead.”

Larned Mayor Bob Pivonka said the Mulls were well-known and respected in the area.

“Glenn has been very successful in the cattle business and everything else,” Pivonka said. “He was real involved in the cattle operation and civic affairs in Larned. …

“This is going to be a real loss to our community.”

Roger Brining, a Great Bend farmer and pilot, said Tuesday that he had known the Mull family for years.

“We know them from church relationships and community interests,” Brining said. “They are heavily involved in church activities and putting on the annual Easter sunrise service at Pawnee Rock.”

Late Monday afternoon, the Mulls’ plane missed its first approach to the airport and was preparing for a second try when it crashed, leaving a stream of debris for up to about 80 yards, police said. The plane nearly struck a crowded community health center and retirement village.

“Something caused it to be very low,” said Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron. “There is a report that it maybe banked just a bit, impacted the trees, and went down in that yard beside the YMCA.”

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.

The crash, which damaged cars in the YMCA’s parking lot, could have killed dozens of people inside the building, said Jessica Fain, a spokeswoman for the YMCA of Middle Tennessee.

“Although members do not check out when leaving our facilities, scan reports indicate that as many as 300 people likely entered the building” before the crash, Fain said.

Area resident Tim Dial said he was watching a movie with his wife when he heard the buzzing plane overhead fall silent, followed by a loud explosion. Outside, he saw a thick plume of smoke and towering flames.

“It’s a miracle it didn’t hit anything,” he said.

Contributing: Associated Press

Reach Beccy Tanner at 316-268-6336 or btanner@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @beccytanner.

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