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New Richmond based plane crashes; three dead

A single-engine airplane that crashed in Menomonie Friday night, killing three people.

Brett Weller, 44, of Hudson, Wis. and Laurence and Vickie Berg of Houlton, Wis. died in the accident, which occurred in a wooded area north of Menomonie. There were no survivors in the crash.

The plane was traveling from Sheboygan to New Richmond and crashed at about 9:44 p.m. in a wooded area just east of highway 25 near 770th Avenue in Dunn County, about four miles north of Menomonie, town of Tainter.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were expected to arrive at the scene Saturday afternoon.

More details will be posted when they become available.

The airplane was an Cirrus SR20 with a tail number N495LV and registered to Laurence and Vicki Berg of Houlton. The aircraft is one of 750 of the same type registered nationally and 14 in Wisconsin.

The airplane was a Cirrus SR20, manufactured at Duluth, Minn. The model was first released in 1998 and deemed innovative by the aviation industry because it carried a parachute system capable of carrying victims to a survival landing in the event of emergency.

Cirrus' web site describes the SR20 this way:

"The SR20's Continental engine puts 200-hp of power at the pilot's fingertips, and its redesigned longer wing gives pilots greater climb performance than ever before. The plane boasts a spacious 49-inch-wide cabin that will keep all occupants relaxed in an atmosphere of lavish ergonomic seating and a superior climate-controlled environment. Oversized doors allow for easy entry and exit, while the unique rear window brings in additional light to create a brighter, more comfortable ambient environment. Luxurious leather seats surround pilot and passengers, making even longer flights a relaxing experience."

The site describes the on-board rescue system this way:

"The Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS ), standard equipment on every Cirrus aircraft, is indicative of the visionary commitment to general aviation safety. The parachute system is designed to protect occupants in the event of an emergency by lowering the aircraft to the ground after deployment. CAPS revolutionized general aviation safety by providing an additional measure of safety to occupants, similar in theory to the role of airbags in automobiles.

"No other certified general aviation aircraft manufacturer in the world provides this safety feature as standard equipment.

"In the event of an in-flight emergency, pulling the red CAPS handle on the ceiling inside the cockpit deploys a solid-fuel rocket out a hatch that covers the concealed compartment where the parachute is stored. As the rocket carries the parachute rearward from the back of the airplane, the embedded CAPS airplane harness straps release from the fuselage. Within seconds, the 55' diameter canopy will unfurl, controlling the aircraft rate of descent. The final landing is absorbed by the specialized landing gear, a roll cage and Cirrus Energy Absorbing Technology (CEAT ) seats."