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Pilot crashes with daughter, 8, aboard

Both die when the Cessna plummets into his ex-mother-in-law's Bedford, Ind., home in an apparently intentional act.

March 06, 2007|From the Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — A pilot took his 8-year-old daughter up in a small plane Monday and crashed it into his former mother-in-law's house in southern Indiana, killing himself and the girl, authorities said.

A preliminary crash investigation leads "us to believe that this was an intentional act," Indiana State Police spokesman 1st Sgt. Dave Bursten said.

The crash in Bedford, about 20 miles south of Bloomington, killed Eric Johnson, 47, of Bedford, and his daughter Emily, Bursten said. No one on the ground was injured in the crash.

Emily did not go to school Monday, and Johnson's former wife, Beth Johnson, went to Bedford police headquarters about 11:30 a.m. to say that she believed he might have abducted the girl, Bursten said.

That was about 45 minutes after the single-engine Cessna crashed into the residence of Eric Johnson's former mother-in-law, Vivian Pace, Bursten said.

"It is just gut-wrenching to think about what was happening to that child just prior to the crash," Bursten said Monday night at a news conference in Indianapolis.

Father and daughter had been on a trip together, but Beth Johnson expected the girl to be in school by Monday morning, Bursten said.

"She had a feeling this morning something was wrong," Pace told WISH-TV in Indianapolis.

Authorities will not know whether the crash was intentional until the National Transportation Safety Board completes its investigation, which could take up to a year, Bursten said.

State police had no record of disputes between the Johnsons, he said.

Earlier, before the pilot was identified as a relative, Pace told the Times-Mail newspaper that she was in the living room of her one-story home when the plane struck the side of the building. She said everything fell off the walls.

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