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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

St. Paul, Burnsville residents killed in Duluth plane crash

Late on Saturday night, a tiny plane carrying three citizens of the Twin Cities region crashed into a house and yard just south of Duluth International Airport, killing all three of them.

Alyssa Schmidt, 32, of St. Paul, and her brother, Matthew Schmidt, 31, of Burnsville, Minn., were passengers in the aircraft, according to Hermantown officials, who also identified the pilot as Tyler Fretland, 32, of Burnsville. In the collision, all three people perished.

Jason and Crystal Hoffman, two residents of the home, were not hurt in the collision that occurred on Saturday just before midnight.

“I’m still not sure what to think. It certainly doesn’t seem genuine. We’re just fortunate. Losing someone is sad. We’re thankful that we survived this, but at the same time,” Jason Hoffman stated in reference to the Sunday morning collision.

The Hermantown Police Department was informed by the airport’s control tower that a small aircraft had departed radar and was reportedly thought to have crashed, according to Joe Wicklund, director of communications for Hermantown. According to the control tower, the last position picked up by radar was one to two miles south of the airport.

A Cessna 172’s wreckage was found in the 5100 block of Arrowhead Road after local police and fire units went to the scene. Before landing in the rear of the building, the airplane collided with the second level.

The residence at 5154 Arrowhead Road had a large portion of its second story destroyed by the plane. The property was littered with pieces of the plane and broken cars that were parked there. The tail part of the Cessna seemed to be the most substantial unbroken component. The residents of the little brick house, according to Wicklund, were upstairs when the catastrophe happened and escaped unharmed.

Hoffman recalled his wife screaming and a loud explosion when he first woke up. “I initially believed that the furnace had burst.”

Hoffman didn’t know it was a crash until he waded through the darkness and dust to get a flashlight. Hoffman then discovered an airplane wheel close to his bed.

As soon as they arrived on the scene, neighbors cautioned the Hoffmans not to leave the area because there were live electricity lines close by. The couple ultimately fled the house when the dust and rubble became too much to bear after discovering their cat uninjured in the basement.

Although Minnesota Power reported no customers without power at 8 a.m. on Sunday, it appears that the collision caused significant power disruptions in the region.

Hoffman thinks the house could be completely destroyed. Seven years have passed since he and his wife relocated from Worthington, Minnesota.

When we arrived in town, this was really the first house we saw. Amazingly, my wife and I came to the conclusion that we needed to live there and bought the property. “We found it and fell in love with it so soon. It was almost like a fairy tale.”

According to reports, an inquiry is being carried out by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. In cooperation with the NTSB, further material will be made public.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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