An airborne social visit turned deadly for a local couple.
The pilot of a single engine plane, David Dickherber, 61, of Mexico was killed Sunday afternoon after his plane crashed shortly after takeoff near Audrain County Road 953 in Audrain County. His wife and passenger Mary Dickherber, 60, survived and is being treated at the University of Missouri Hospital and Clinics. Chief Ken Hoover of the Little Dixie Fire Protection District said Dickherber had landed his single engine Piper Cherokee on the Feutz farm to speak with some farmers. “When he took off he clipped a tree or something and flipped the plane and crashed onto the front yard of the Feutz property,” Hoover said.
“When fire district volunteers got to the scene we realized we would have to extract Mr. Dickherber as soon as possible.”
Hoover said initially response from Station 4 in southwest Audrain was seven minutes with the emergency rescue truck from Station 1 arriving shortly thereafter.
While several firefighters used hydraulic “Jaws of Life,” and rescue saws to remove David Dickherber from the plane, EMS personnel attended to Mary Dickherber and others began clearing landing areas for two airborne ambulances, one out of Columbia, the other, Hoover said, from Quincy.
“It’s protocol for anything like this,” said Hoover.
“Anytime there is a rollover or something this severe we get those birds in the air and make sure they have a safe place to land. Landing and taking off in a helicopter from an accident scene is dangerous business and we have to clear the area of any lines and debris.”
It took the EMS team 12 minutes to remove David Dickherber from the remains of his plane.
“Fortunately there was no fire,” said Hoover.
“With a plane crash there is always a fire hazard. Usually it ignites, fortunately it did not, but we had foam lines out just in case. The main thing was to get those people out, get them safe and treated without the hazard of fire.”
David Dickherber died later at the hospital from injuries sustained in the crash.
Mary Dickherber was taken to University Hospital, and according to media reports, is in fair condition.