Local News Spotlight

Victims of Kansas plane crash were going to Christian rally

Updated: 2012-05-13T06:58:30Z


The Kansas City Star

Five young people were flying to a Christian rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, when their plane crashed Friday near Chanute in southeast Kansas, killing four.

The only survivor was being treated Saturday at the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kan.

Hannah N. Luce, 22, of Garden Valley, Texas, was transported to KU Hospital after suffering burns on 28 percent of her body, according to a statement from Teen Mania Ministries, the organizers of the Iowa rally.

Luce was aboard a twin-engine Cessna 401 that crashed about 4:30 p.m. Friday northwest of Chanute. Federal authorities said the plane caught fire after the crash.

The dead were identified by the Kansas Highway Patrol as Luke F. Sheets, 23, of Ephraim, Wis., the pilot of the plane; Austin G. Anderson, 27, of Ringwood, Okla.; Garrett V. Coble, 29, of Tulsa, Okla.; and Stephen J. Luth, 22, of Muscatine, Iowa.

Luce and Anderson survived the impact and made it to a nearby road to summon help, according to Cindy Mallette, a spokeswoman for the Texas-based Teen Mania Ministries. Both suffered severe injuries, and Anderson died about 5:30 a.m. Saturday at a hospital in Wichita.

Luce, the daughter of Teen Mania founder Ron Luce, was in serious but stable condition at KU Hospital, Mallette said.

“We are so saddened by what happened and ask for all those who have been touched by this ministry in some way to rally around the families of all involved in the crash, especially the four young men who passed away,” Ron Luce said in a statement. “They all had a heart for this generation and were passionately pursuing God’s call on their lives.”

Both Anderson and Luth were recently hired to the marketing staff at Teen Mania Ministries. Anderson had recently graduated from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa and had served two tours with the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq.

Sheets and Coble also were graduates of Oral Roberts University. Coble was a professor at Northeastern State University in Broken Arrow, Okla.

Peter Knudson, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said the eight-seat plane was en route from Riverside, Kan., to Council Bluffs. He said the plane lost contact with air traffic control shortly after getting permission to descend to a lower altitude.

Investigators were unaware of any distress call, Knudson said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the crash occurred about seven miles northwest of Chanute, which is 124 miles southwest of the Kansas City area.

To reach Kevin Collison, call 816-234-4289 or send email to kcollison@kcstar.com.

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