Chester County

Police ID Victims of Plane Crash Near Pennsylvania Airport

Days after a deadly airplane crashed not far from a suburban Philadelphia airport, authorities identified the victims.

Col. Richard Poch of West Chester, and Joseph Deal of Drexel Hill died in Sunday afternoon's Piper PA28 crash Saunders Lane and Andrews Drive -- not far from Brandywine Airport in West Goshen, Chester County, West Goshen Police said Wednesday.

Witnesses on the ground suggested the single-engine aircraft may have lost power -- the engine sputtering -- and then stalled before crashing into the woods and bursting into flames.

"Shortly after taking off the plane started to sputter and then basically took a nosedive and came down in the woods," said Bob Fleming, of Goshen Fire Company.

It had taken off minutes earlier from Brandywine Airport -- roughly two miles away.

"We couldn't see anything, just heard a big bang," said Frank Kraus, a neighbor.

Kraus added he was thankful the tragedy was not any worse, considering the proximity of several homes and a large senior living housing complex to the crash site.

"Thank God for the pilot," he said. "But then the pilot and his passenger didn't make it which is sad. Sad to hear that people didn't make it."

Deal, a 64-year-old certified pilot, attended Cardinal O'Hara High School and Drexel University, said his family. He left behind five siblings and a fiance.

"Joe was a kind soul and a wonderful man," said a family statement. "He was someone who everyone loved. His passion for adventure was only out-weighed by his love of family and friends, and his dedication to helping others."

Poch, who was 67, left behind a wife, two children, five grandchildren and three siblings. The U.S. Air Force veteran will be laid to rest Wednesday.

An official cause of the wreck remained under investigation.

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