SHALERSVILLE TOWNSHIP, Ohio — When you live across the street from an airport, you get used to hearing planes flying over your house.
But when a plane crashed in their neighbor’s yard in Shalersville Township on Sunday, Dave and Carrie Shanley didn’t hear anything.
The couple lives across the street from the Portage County Regional Airport.
“I was home and did not hear a thing,” Dave Shanley said. “It’s very quiet out here. Absolutely this is quiet a surprise to me.”
“My daughter and I were coming home from a choir concert that she had at the high school and we saw all of the lights and knew that something had happened,” Carrie Shanley said.
“We’ve had balloons land in our yard, but never an airplane crash,” Dave Shanley said.
Early Monday, the Ohio State Highway Patrol released the identity of the pilot killed in the crash as Stephen Paulus, 60, of Rootstown.
“Once we arrived on scene we observe that it was a single engine airplane crash and there was one occupant that was still inside the airplane,” Sgt. Scott Louive, Ohio State Highway Patrol, said.
“The airplane from what we saw had actually dropped on the backside of the property. It did not strike the residence,” Louive said.
“What it did was struck the back deck,” he said. “The landing gear on the one side hit and it caused it to tilt forward and it struck the ground at the time.”
Louive said nobody was home at the time of the crash.
“The homeowners arrived home and just happened to notice it whenever they were in the backside of their home,” he said. “They were inside their kitchen when they saw it.”
Because nobody was home at the time of the crash, Louive said it’s possible that the plane had been there for some time before it was discovered. The Ohio State Highway Patrol was called to the scene around 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
Louive said the family didn’t know the pilot.
“They’re doing pretty well at this point, however, they are emotional considering what has happened,” Louive said of the family that discovered the crash.
It was believed that Paulus took off from the Portage County Regional Airport.
He “was just flying around and enjoying the day and may have been back en route to the airport,” Louive said.
Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration did respond to the scene.
Louive said it would take a while before a full report was ready. He could not say what might have caused the crash.