WI farmer killed in Thursday night plane crash - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

WI farmer killed in Thursday night plane crash

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CARROLL COUNTY, Ind. (WBAY) - The owner of a Pagel's Ponderosa Dairy Farm in Kewaunee was on board a plane that crashed in Indiana Thursday night, according to a source close to the family.

John Pagel is being remembered as a "visionary" in the dairy farm community. Pagel's Ponderosa is the largest family-owned dairy farm in Wisconsin.

Pagel also owned The Cannery restaurant in downtown Green Bay.

A source tells Action 2 News that Pagel's son-in-law, Steve Witcpalek, was also on the plane.

Action 2 News is working to get reaction to the loss of John Pagel and will have full reports Friday night.

Investigators are still trying to determine how many people were on board the Cessna 441 Conquest Turboprop plane when it crashed in a muddy field in Carroll County, Indiana. Indiana State Police say there are no survivors.

Our ABC sister station in Indianapolis, RTV 6, reports at least three people were on board the plane that was en route to Green Bay.

The plane took off just before 6:30 Central time from Eagle Creek airport on the outskirts of Indianapolis. It crashed in a muddy field 60 miles to the northwest. First responders had a hard time finding the wreckage due to it being dark and far back in the field. They used ATVs and other off-road vehicles to find it.

The plane disappeared off radar, according to sources with our sister station. Right after, multiple 911 calls came in Carroll County of a report of a plane crash. People who live in that area who heard the crash said it sounded like thunder.

The cause of the crash wasn't immediately known. The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash, which is standard procedure for aircraft incidents.

The plane that crashed was a Cessna 441. Cessna manufactured 363 of them between 1978 and 1986, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

Action 2 News spoke with John Pagel in January about a DNR rule that stops farmers from spreading manure on soil less than two feet deep. That's to stop manure from seeping into groundwater.

Despite the impact on his bottom line, Pagel supported the rule.

"It will affect me, but we'll figure it out. And if it improves water quality, which I believe it will, then it's the right thing to do. But it concerns me when we affect family businesses that have been in the family for many years."

Pagel was worried that smaller operations could lose family farms. “I don’t want to see anyone—no matter how small—lose their farm.”

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