A small jet crashed on Thursday while preparing to land at a regional airport in Minnesota, killing eight people, including several casino and construction executives. Officials had feared a ninth person may have been on board the Hawker 800, which went down at the airport about 60 miles (100 kilometers) south of Minneapolis, but Department of Public Safety spokesman Doug Neville said it was later determined that that person wasn't on the plane.
Seven people were dead at the scene. One died later at a hospital.
Severe weather had been moving through southern Minnesota in the hours before the crash, but witnesses and the National Weather Service said the storms were subsiding and it wasn't immediately clear if they were a factor.
Atlantic City Mayor Scott Evans told The Associated Press that those on board the flight from New Jersey included two high-ranking executives from Revel Entertainment, which is building a $2 billion hotel-casino project in Atlantic City, and several employees of Tishman Construction. He didn't know their identities, but said Revel CEO Kevin DeSanctis was not on board. Tishman is helping with the Revel project, a company spokesman said.
Revel spokeswoman Lauren Avellino Turton confirmed in a written statement that several of the company's employees were killed aboard a plane that was chartered by Revel Entertainment. "Revel is mourning the loss of several of its team members," the statement read. "The design team was heading to Minnesota for a glass manufacturing meeting."
She did not say how many Revel employees were killed. A team from the National Transportation Safety Board arrived on the scene on Thursday evening. John Lovell, the investigator in charge of the accident, said the 14-member team will look at a variety of factors, such as the structure of the plane and the weather at the time of the crash.
A cockpit voice recorder and a flight management system were recovered from the wreckage and sent to the NTSB lab in Washington, D.C., the agency said.
Owatonna is home to Viracon Inc., a glass manufacturing company. Mary Ann Jackson, a spokeswoman for Viracon's parent company Apogee Enterprises Inc., confirmed to AP that the people on the plane were customers of Viracon but declined to provide any other details. She said no Viracon employees were involved in the crash. The Dakota County coroner was on the scene working to identify victims. Tishman Construction identified one of them as Karen Sandland, 44, a project manager on the Revel casino-hotel project, who worked out of Tishman's Newark, New Jersey, office. The charter jet, flying from from Atlantic City, New Jersey, to Owatonna, a town of 25,000, went down in a cornfield northwest of Degner Regional Airport, scattering debris, Sheriff Gary Ringhofer said. The wreckage was not visible from the airport, and authorities blocked off nearby roadways.
The jet, built in 1990, was carrying two pilots.