OWATONNA, Minn. - A small jet crashed Thursday while preparing to land at a regional airport in Minnesota, killing eight people, including casino and construction executives.
Authorities initially thought 10 people may have been aboard the Raytheon Hawker 800, which went down about 9:30 a.m. about 60 miles south of the Twin Cities.
But by late evening, Department of Public Safety spokesman Doug Neville said it had been confirmed that eight people were on board.
The plane was carrying two pilots. Seven people were dead at the scene. One died later at a hospital.
Severe weather had been moving through southern Minnesota earlier Thursday, but witnesses and the National Weather Service said the storms were subsiding at the time of the crash.
The charter jet, flying from Atlantic City, N.J., to Owatonna, a town of 25,000, went down in a cornfield northwest of Degner Regional Airport, Sheriff Gary Ringhofer said. The wreckage was not visible to reporters because tall corn obscured the crash site.
The debris was scattered 500 feet beyond the airport's runway. Late Thursday, the Dakota County coroner was on the scene working to identify victims.
A National Transportation Safety Board investigating team will look at a variety of factors, such as the plane structure and weather, said John Lovell, the investigator in charge.
A cockpit voice recorder and a flight management system were recovered and sent to be analyzed, the NTSB said.
Cameron Smith, a mechanic at the airport, said he spoke by radio with the jet's pilot just minutes before the crash. The pilot was about to land and was asking where he should park for fuel, Smith said.
He ran to the crash scene to see if anyone could be helped, but saw only a long skid path and debris that he described as "shredded."
He said: "There was no fuselage. There were just parts."
By late Thursday night, five of the eight victims had been identified. They are:
— Karen Sandland, 44, a project manager on the Revel casino project who worked out of Tishman Construction's Newark, N.J. office, company spokesman Bud Perrone said.
— Two pilots, Clark Keefer of Bethlehem, Pa. and Dan D'Ambrosio of Hellertown, Pa., according to Brad Cole, president of East Coast Jets, the company which owned the plane.
— Two executives of APG International, a Glassboro, N.J. company that specializes in glass facades: Marc Rosenberg, the company's chief operating officer, and Alan Barnett, its assistant project manager, according to company spokeswoman Amelia Townsend.
Revel spokeswoman Valerie Edmonds confirmed that three Revel employees were killed in the crash, but said their identities would not be released until Friday at the earliest.
The airport lies alongside Interstate 35 as it skirts Owatonna's western edge. The airport's Web site describes it as "ideal for all classes of corporate aircraft use" with an all-weather instrument landing system.