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2 local men presumed dead in plane crash

Oklahoma officials still searching wreckage of plane bound for Manhattan

By Corene Brisendine

The family of Dr. Ronald L. Marshall waited for confirmation from authorities Monday morning that a man who died in a plane crash Sunday evening in Oklahoma was the retired local physician.

Officials at Kansas State University, meanwhile, confirmed that one of the dead was Chris Gruber, an employee of the KSU Foundation, who specialized in fund-raising for the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Judy Marshall, Ron Marshall’s wife, waited with her sister-in-law at the Marshall home for officials to identify one or more bodies in the wreckage of an airplane owned by Ron that left Tulsa International Airport at 5:47 p.m. Sunday. According to the flight plan, it was to arrive at Manhattan Regional Airport at 7:02 p.m. Between 6 and 6:30 p.m. an airplane of the same model as one owned by Ron crashed into a house just north of Tulsa.

The sister-in-law, who did not give her name, confirmed that Ron had flown to Tulsa Sunday with a friend she did not identify and was to return that night, but he never made it home. She said as far as the family knew there were only two people on board.

Amy Elliott, who works in public relations for the Chief Medical Examiner’s office in Oklahoma, said they had removed two bodies from the wreckage and were still working to officially identify them.

Erin Barcomb-Peterson, director of the news and editorial services for Kansas State University, said KSU was providing grief counselors for any of Gruber’s university acquaintances who wished to talk to one.

Rod Marshall, Ron’s brother who lives in Nebraska, told the Omaha World Herald that he and his brother had attended a gun show in Tulsa over the weekend. Rod left for Beatrice, Neb., in his car after they had dinner, and Ron and Gruber left in Ron’s plane.

Federal Aviation Administration regional spokesman Lynn Lunsford said the 1984 Mooney, a single-engine 4-seat plane, dropped off FAA radar at 5:52 p.m., seven minutes after leaving Tulsa.

The airplane crashed into a presumed empty house in the town of Collinsville, Okla., north of Tulsa. Neighbors told the Tulsa World they heard the accident and went outside to see what happened. One person saw a “ball of fire” explode from the crash site. Several neighbors began fighting the fire that resulted from the crash until Collinsville fire fighters arrived.

It was also reported that Collinsville fire fighters, Collinsville police, Oklahoma Highway Patrol officers and a medical examiner were at the scene Sunday. The National Transportation Safety Board was to take over the investigation on Monday.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. Weather conditions for the Tulsa area Sunday evening were breezy and overcast, with no report of storms or precipitation, according to the National Weather Service.

This is not the first time the Marshalls have suffered the tragedy of death involving an airplane. In March 2004, Scott Marshall, Ron’s son, jumped out of a plane without a parachute while Ron flew it from Texas to Manhattan.

Authorities determined that the incident, which took place about 7 miles south of the Manhattan airport, was “an apparent effort to commit suicide.”

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