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Truck stop owners die in fatal plane crash

CARDINAL, Ont. -- Fort Erie truck stop owners Tony Schertzing and his wife Jane died Aug. 14 in a fatal plane crash...

CARDINAL, Ont. — Fort Erie truck stop owners Tony Schertzing and his wife Jane died Aug. 14 in a fatal plane crash. Their daughter Tara was hospitalized.

The Schertzings were part owners of the Fort Erie Truck and Travel Plaza. They had flown down to Cardinal from Fort Erie to attend the Driver Appreciation Day events at the 730 Truck Stop in Cardinal, Ont.

They were on their way back the same day, in a six-seat Piper Cherokee piloted by Tony, when the accident happened.

Bob Lodge, owner of the 730 truck Stop, drove the Schertzings to the airport and witnessed the accident, which occurred just as the plane was taking off.

But he still managed to make it back to Driver Appreciation Day and keep the event going, for which he should be commended, said Pete Turner, spokesman for the Truckers’ Voice lobby group.

“He saw this terrible accident and then he came back and made sure Driver Appreciation Day was a success without anybody noticing,” said Turner, adding he’d like to extend condolences to the bereaved family and friends of the Schertzings.

The accident took place at 3 p.m. at an airstrip outside Iriquois, near Brockville. It occurred after Schertzing took off, using the full 609 metres of runway, far more than the 244 to 365 metres it usually takes for a plane of that type to become airborne, according to Peter Rowntree, regional investigator for the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

That fact could have been due to a problem with the plane, or shown that weather conditions were not adequate to get the small craft off the ground, he said.

“The aircraft …entered into a slow climb,” said Rowntree. “Then it struck the trees with its left wing, and the trees slowed the plane down, and shortly after striking the trees it stalled.”

Rowntree said investigators are still trying to figure out why the plane was travelling so slowly.

Air isn’t as dense on a hot day, which have affected the plane’s take off performance, he said.

The plane’s engine is also being examined, Rowntree said. If it’s found to have been functioning properly, it’s likely a full investigation will not be conducted. The board only conducts a fill investigation if public safety is involved, he said.

* With files from the Ste. Catherine’s Standard

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