Pilot, teen flying enthusiast killed in Door County plane crash


EPHRAIM, Wis. (WBAY) – A Sister Bay man and a teen girl were killed in a plane crash at Peninsula State Park in Door County Sunday.

The Door County Sheriff’s Office identified the victims as 69-year-old Ralph L. Keller of Sister Bay and LaGrange Park, Il., and 16-year-old Olivia M. Dahl of Sister Bay.

Dahl was a senior at Gibraltar High School. The Gibraltar area School District says it’s focusing on taking care of the students and staff during this tragedy.

The sheriff’s office described Dahl as a “flying enthusiast” working to get her pilots license and Keller was a volunteer pilot.

“Mr. Keller and Ms. Dahl left the Gibraltar Airport around 5 p.m. They flew to Austin Straubel Airport in Green Bay where she had a flight lesson, and their anticipated arrival was around 8:30 p.m.,” Chief Deputy Patrick McCarty said.

At about 8:30 Sunday night, the sheriff’s office was notified of a plane plying low over Peninsula State Park. A caller saw the plane near the Ephraim Airport when the plane disappeared from view and there was the sound of a crash.

About an hour later, another witness on a bike trail in Peninsula State Park located the wreckage to the west of Highland Road.

The sheriff’s office says it appears the pilot was making his approach to the airport when “something went wrong.”

Authorities confirm Keller was flying the plane when it crashed.

“He was a licensed pilot, and more information about his flight experience I’m sure will come out as the investigation continues,” McCarty said.

The FAA website says Keller had what’s called a conditional license to fly. With that license, the pilot must have yearly medical reviews to renew the license.

Authorities expect this to be a lengthy investigation.

“We are assisting the FAA and we will assist the NTSB as they conduct their investigation,” McCarty said.

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