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Witness Saw Plane Emerge From Clouds, Then Fiery Crash

Michigan homebuilder, wife, and teen son die after small aircraft slams into home
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 4, 2021 9:40 AM CST

(Newser) – An accident in Michigan has taken the lives of a local businessman, his wife, and their teen son after their small plane crashed into a home. Per the AP, David Compo, who recently ended his stint as the head of the Home Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan, was piloting a single-engine Piper PA-24 Comanche aircraft from Georgia on Saturday with his wife, Michele (spelled Michelle by some sources), and their 18-year-old son, Dawson, when it crashed at around 3:45pm in Lyon Township. The five people inside the house managed to escape uninjured, but the Compos were killed, and the home sustained severe fire damage. Federal aviation officials are trying to piece together the details, but a witness statement cited by the Detroit News may shed some light on what happened before the plane went down a half-mile from its destination, Oakland/Southwest Airport.

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"We have a witness report that the plane struck a tree and then struck the house," National Transportation Safety Board rep Peter Knudson says, adding that the "weather was overcast" and that, per the witness, the plane had just flown out of the clouds before it clipped the tree. He notes there doesn't appear to be any surveillance video of the accident. Compo, 60, who owned Compo Builders Inc., was said to be an experienced pilot and a "shirt-off-his-back kind of guy," per a colleague, while his wife was described as a "sweetheart" and "the calm and steady" force behind her husband. Dawson, meanwhile, was an Eagle Scout and Michigan State freshman who worked for his dad, per ClickOnDetroit. Knudson says officials will have a preliminary report on the crash finished sometime in the next two weeks. (Read more plane crash stories.)

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