Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

December 8, 2012

Community says goodbye to plane crash victims

Brent Brown
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — More than 2,000 mourners gathered in the Greensburg Community High School gymnasium Friday morning in remembrance of four local residents killed in a plane crash over the weekend.

The memorial mass brought area citizens and high-ranking clergy together in order to pay their last respects to four beloved community members who died when their plane crashed into a field near the Greensburg Municipal Airport Sunday evening.

A chilly, drizzly, overcast morning seemed to reflect the melancholy mood of the community, which has mourned the crash victims since learning the tragic news late Sunday night.

Don Horan, his wife Barb, and their friends, Stephen and Denise Butz, were returning from a vacation in Florida aboard a plane owned and piloted by Don Horan.

The crash is currently under investigation by members of the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) in Washington, D.C.

A visitation that drew thousands took place at the new St. Mary’s Elementary School Thursday evening.

Friday’s funeral mass lasted approximately 90 minutes and was followed by a lengthy procession. Four black hearses carried the victims to St. Mary’s Cemetery, where they were laid to rest.

The Horan’s leave behind four teenage daughters, the Butz’ two teenage sons.

School remained in session at GCHS Friday, with more than 200 students electing to attend the mass. Reports earlier this week indicated the children of St. Mary’s Elementary would perform songs during the ceremony. The new St. Mary’s Elementary School opened in August. Don Horan was instrumental in helping the project become a reality.

Officials still do not know the cause of Sunday’s fatal accident, though a Thursday press conference conducted by two members of the NTSB stated the recovered aircraft appeared to be performing properly during the flight. Fog and rain were present throughout the county Sunday afternoon.

Horan had logged 52 hours in the Piper Malibu PA-46 he was flying Sunday. He also had numerous hours of experience — both real and simulated — in weather conditions similar to those seen in Decatur County at the time of the crash.

The plane disappeared from radar at about 6:20 p.m. Sunday. The craft was located and the victims were confirmed dead at approximately 10:45 that night.

In the days that followed, those killed in the crash were remembered kindly by friends, family, associates and fellow church members. Greensburg Mayor Gary Herbert called the four victims “pillars of the community.”

At Thursday’s public visitation, Marge Bruns, a St. Mary’s administrator, asked community members to continue “the example of kindness” shown by the four victims.

Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056