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Plane crashes near Steward

Pilot injured; cell tower collapses after impact

Published: Saturday, July 20, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

A pilot was injured and a cellular radio tower was destroyed Friday morning in a plane crash near Steward.

Witnesses reported seeing a crop-dusting plane strike the tower and crash in a cornfield about 8:07 a.m. at the 1900 block of Steward Road near Interstate 39, according to a news release from the Illinois State Police in Sterling.

State Police did not name the pilot, who was transported to Rochelle Community Hospital with non-life threatening injuries and then transferred to Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford.

The engine compartment on the plane was on fire when first responders arrived, state police said, but the pilot was able to free himself and walk away from the crash.

The aircraft, a 1982 Air Tractor, was a total loss.

The cellular tower, and a smaller tower at the same site, collapsed after the crash. The news release did not indicate whether cellular service was affected.

The crash remains under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. Those agencies did not return calls from Sauk Valley Media on Friday, nor did the state police.

State police were assisted by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and Rochelle police and fire departments.

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