ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Crews on Thursday removed three bodies from the wreckage of a small twin-engine plane that crashed into woodland in Rochester, narrowly missing a home.
Olmsted County sheriff's Capt. Bill Reiland said the bodies of two males and one female were removed from the crash site about two miles northwest of Rochester International Airport. Reiland says there's no indication a fourth person was aboard the four-seat Piper PA-23 that crashed shortly before midnight Wednesday.
Reiland said the plane was headed north, possibly to Minneapolis, and air traffic controllers had tried to divert it to Rochester's airport because of engine failure.
Olmsted County Chief Sheriff's Deputy Mark Darnell told The Associated Press that the private plane crashed about 200 yards into the woods, and that the trees, along with a creek and cliffs in the area hindered initial efforts to access the crash site, about four miles southwest of the city of Rochester.
The plane narrowly missed the home of Douglas and Lori Eaton.
"We heard what sounded like a helicopter landing on my house. It woke us up. Then, there was a super loud explosion," Douglas Eaton told the AP. "My wife and I looked out the window and saw flames shooting out of the woods."
Lori Eaton said she ran to the wreckage in the woods while her husband called 911.
"It was already on fire. I just yelled to see if anyone would answer my call and see if anyone needed help, and no one was answering my call," she said.
Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said the plane's registration was listed as pending, so officials were trying to sort out who owned it.
Authorities said they believed they knew where the plane had originated but were not releasing that information until they finish their investigation and notify families of the victims.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.
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