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NTSB investigates Will County plane crash site

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

The wreckage of a fatal plane crash in Manhattan Township was being recovered Wednesday and will be moved to another location, federal authorities said.

The National Transportation Safety Board, the lead investigative agency for plane crashes, was expected to be in the area Thursday — continuing its investigation into the small-plane crash that occurred Tuesday afternoon southwest of Manhattan.

Investigators from the federal agency were at the site Wednesday, looking at the wreckage from the crash in a field southwest of Gougar and Offner roads.

"Part of what we will be doing is seeing if there were any witnesses to the crash," agency spokesman Keith Holloway said.

The agency also examines the pilot's history, radar data and air-traffic control communications, Holloway said.

"We are in a fact-gathering stage of the investigation," he said.

Under federal law, the agency is responsible for investigating and determining the probable cause of every civil aviation accident in the United States. Investigations take between one and 1-1/2 years to complete.

An autopsy on the crash victim, Larry A. Diffley, 74, of Bemidji, Minn., was scheduled for Wednesday, the Will County coroner's office said. No update was released Wednesday afternoon.

Diffley was pronounced dead at 4:45 p.m. Tuesday. The cause and manner of his death are pending investigative, autopsy and other reports.

Federal investigators arrived around 7:45 a.m. Wednesday to inspect the wreckage.

Before 8 a.m., inspectors from two oil companies were also at the crash site to inspect the damage. According to reports four pipelines run through the fields in the area near the crash.

Diffley was contracted by Enbridge Energy to inspect their pipeline from the air when the crash occurred, Will County sheriff's police said.

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