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Pilot identified after plane crashes in Geauga County

GEAUGA COUNTY, Ohio – Law enforcement crews located the wreckage of a plane and the body of a pilot near LaDue Reservoir in Geauga County Wednesday morning.

A search had been underway through the night in the water, and then a wooded area on Shaw Road.

The wreckage was found between Shaw Road and the reservoir.

The pilot was the only person on the small plane, which was a 1967 Piper Cherokee Arrow. The Ohio State Highway Patrol said the pilot has been identified as Troy Bankert, 55, of Middlefield Township.

Authorities said he was a relatively new pilot. He took off from the Wayne County Airport at around 11 p.m. Tuesday, the highway patrol said.

The plane’s wreckage was found in a heavily wooded area.

Crews had to cut a path to reach the plane.

Geauga County Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand said the plane was split into several pieces.

They were able to identify the plane by the tail number reported from a friend of the pilot.

The last known location of the plane was around 4 a.m. over the reservoir, according to Scott Denamen with the State Wildlife Office.

Law enforcement was tipped off to the plane’s location by someone who lived in the area.

That person heard a loud crash last night, but thought it was thunder from storms in the area.

The wreckage was found by drones and boots on the ground.

Crews were unable to fly planes to search due to fog in the area and a low ceiling. At one point, the sheriff says they had to bring down the drones because the fog was so heavy.

Multiple agencies assisted in the search.

The cause of the crash is pending and remains under investigation by the FAA and the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

**Editor’s note: Originally,  the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office said the pilot took off from Cincinnati; later, it was learned via flight records that the pilot took off from the Wayne County Airport.

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