Crews on Saturday recovered the fourth and final body from a FlightSafety International building damaged when a plane crashed into it Thursday at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport.
Wichita Fire Marshal Brad Crisp said the fire department’s technical rescue team, along with investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, removed the body from the roof around 1 p.m. Saturday after painstaking attempts were made to stabilize the crumbling walls and roof of the two-story portion of the building that housed flight simulators.
The bodies of the three other people killed in the crash were removed from inside the building, where they had been trapped in a simulator, around 9:30 p.m. Friday, nearly 36 hours after the Beechcraft King Air B200 piloted by 53-year-old Mark Goldstein lost power to its left engine and went down shortly after takeoff.
“The coroner’s office is going to continue to work on making positive identifications, and they are also working on making the appropriate notifications” to families of the deceased, Crisp said during a news briefing at 6 p.m. Saturday.
He would not release the victims’ names, although the families of three who lived in the Wichita area – 48-year-old English-Russian translator Nataliya Menestrina, 78-year-old Jay Ferguson and Goldstein – have confirmed their deaths to local news media.
The fourth victim, a pilot in the simulator, is Russian, according to reports.
The Sedgwick County Forensic Science Center on Saturday confirmed the receipt of four bodies from the crash site at 1851 Airport Road but said none had been positively identified yet. Additional information on the victims may be come from official sources on Monday or Tuesday, said Kristi Zukovich, director of the county’s communications department.
“Not all of the notifications have been made yet,” Crisp said. Identifying the victims and determining the cause of death could take time, he said.
In the meantime, Wichita fire crews plan to remain at the crash scene through at least Sunday, dousing smaller fires that have flared up over the past few days, Crisp said. Heavy-equipment operators also are at the scene, deconstructing portions of the building.
“There are still a few (small, smoldering fires) in there,” Crisp said Saturday evening. “The wind also helps to keep those things kicked up a little bit, and it makes extinguishing efforts a little more difficult.”
Investigators are still concerned about the structural integrity of the building and will work slowly to remove the wreckage, he added.
The fire department continues to ask the public to avoid the area.
“There are a lot of factors, including aviation fuel that’s still in the building, that we have to pay attention to,” Crisp said. “This is a very methodical process. ... We take our time, we do it right – that way we can make sure nobody else gets hurt,” including firefighters and NTSB investigators.
Contributing: Denise Neil of The Eagle