MANLIUS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - Two Hope College students died in a plane crash shortly afterthe plane took off from the Tulip City Airport in Holland onSunday.
The pilot of the plane, 23-year-old David Otai, and hispassenger, Emma Biagioni, 20, were pronounced dead at the scene ofthe crash that happened in a field between 58th and 60th streetsand 134th and 136th avenues.
The plane took off from the airport late Sunday morning.Investigators began searching for the downed wreckage after anautomated distress call was detected and communication was lostwith the aircraft. The Hamilton fire chief said investigators don'tknow what caused the distress call.
Federal records show Otai has a commercial pilot's license.
He rented the 1979 model of the Cessna Skyhawk 172 from theairport, said Ron Ludema, a manager at Tulip City. The plane isinspected for safety after every 100 hours of flight and it was ingood working order, he added.
"It's tough," Ludema said. "You get to know people a little bitand even though it's a business kind of a relationship, it's reallytragic to have to hear these kind of things."
Otai had flown the plane several times since becoming a clientabout three months ago, Ludema said.
Hope College has altered the regularly scheduled "gathering"service at the Dimnent Chapel, 277 College Ave., to provide timefor students to pray.
Otai is a sophomore from Kenya who first came to the UnitedStates as an exchange student and was continuing his education atHope. Biagioni is a junior political science major from St.Charles, Ill., according to a college news release.
She was on the staff at The Anchor, Hope College's studentnewspaper and was on the orientation committee.
Otai was a captain on his Hope College intramural soccer team,according to the Hope College Web site.
The crash remains under investigation by the Federal AviationAdministration. The sheriff's department has not confirmed thevictim's names, but Hope College sent out a release identifying thestudents.
11 fire departments from several counties were called out to a fire at an adult entertainment club Wednesday afternoon.
Holland police were searching for 28-year-old Mark Steven Randall Harris, who was considered armed and dangerous, but arrested him late Wednesday night.
Those receiving the 2013 White House holiday card will see a design made by a Grand Rapids artist.