ENNIS — The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating an airplane crash that took the lives of two people Sunday morning near Ennis. 

The crash happened in the community of Rankin near the intersection of Gorman Road and Farm-to-Market 984. 

“My team arrived (Monday) morning. We will be looking at the airframe and engine to make sure there was not anything mechanically wrong. We have conducted witness interviews and spoken with some family members,” NTSB Senior Air Safety Investigator Jennifer Rodi said. “Unfortunately, it is a long course to go through an accident investigation. We will be looking at the pilot to make sure that he did not have any health issues. We will also look at the pilot’s training and experience. The weather at the time of the accident was absolutely beautiful. At this point and time I don’t have any reason for concern about the weather.”

Rodi said the autopsy and toxicology reports would take several months to be completed.

Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Lonny Haschel said authorities were notified of a plane crash in Ellis County at approximately 10:35 a.m. Sunday. Police, fire, EMS and troopers arrived and found a single engine aircraft had crashed in a field and burst into flames. 

The two occupants on board the plane were confirmed to be deceased.  

The plane involved in the crash is a 1975 Beechcraft Model 33, which can seat five passengers. 

The Austin American Statesman is reporting that the two men killed in the plane crash are 38-year-old Kurt Russmann and 49-year-old Michael Ruggiero, both of Austin, according to a report from a Texas Department of Public Safety official.

 “We understand that he (the pilot) was talking with air traffic control, so we will be securing those tapes to see what it was that he was communicating. We will also look at the radar data to understand the flight path prior to the accident,” Rodi said. “What I have gleaned from the witness statements and my observations here is that the plane was flying low. The wings rocked back and fourth. The airplane impacted trees and the ground during what could be perceived as an emergency situation. What that emergency was we do not know right now.”

Rodi said the pilot did not file a flight plan, but was traveling from Greenfield to Austin. The preliminary report on the accident will be completed within five days and the final report will be take about eight to 10 months to complete. 

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