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A plane crash at Camp Kern killed 2 people; family members want this change for safety

The family of the passenger killed in a 2016 plane crash in Warren County is seeking to have legislation passed that would ensure aerial markers are placed in areas where ziplines are located to improve the safety of those flying over the low hanging lines.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its final report on the crash this week indicating that the plane crashed after it struck a zipline over the Little Miami River in Oregonia on Oct. 16.

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Warren County Coroner’s Office officials said that Jesse Loy, 36, was piloting a plane in 2016 when it crashed, killing Loy and Erick Hackney, 43. Both men were from Punta Gorda, Fla.

The horror of having to relive the entire situation again through the report’s release was gut wrenching for Hackney’s family members, but his fiancee, Ali Chang, 49, has decided to take up the fight to get Aerial Markers, used to alert for low wires like ziplines, placed where they are located.

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“We were forced to live through this all over again when the report came out,” she told this news organization through heavy tears. “But Eric’s (Hackney) mother and I wanted to start an awareness of something that would add to pilot safety when they are flying near ziplines.”

Maureen Larkin, Hackney’s mother, used to be a pilot and understands what it takes to be safe in the air. Hackney was also a pilot.

“I am hoping that something good comes of this,” she said of the effort being led by Chang to get aerial markers placed in areas where ziplines are located.

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Chang has been busy over the past week calling the NTSB, Federal Aviation Commission and YMCA officials in charge of Camp Kern, site of the zipeline, to see how legislation or rules can be passed to get the aerial markers in place.

“We are at 156 signatures right now and it hasn’t even been 24 hours yet,” she explained, regarding the petition, “Aerial Marker Can Save Lives,” which is posted on the website change.org. “It should be made mandatory to place a Aerial Ball Marker above zip lines as a visual indicator for low flying planes and helicopters. This would protect both the lives of the patrons that use the zip lines as well as the pilots.”

She added that aerial markers, “help save lives and protect expensive infrastructure by making power lines and guy wires more visible to low-flying planes and helicopters.”

An investigator with the FAA said that he was not aware of any current law mandating that aerial markers be placed near ziplines for the purpose of pilot safety or what entity would be in charge of regulating it.

In 2016, Camp Kern operated a zip line over the Miami River and did not have an Aerial Marker to alert for the wires.

Initial reports indicated Hackney was the pilot. But Warren County officials said that Loy was the pilot, according to identification of the remains found at the crash scene using dental forensics.

The final NTSB report also stated that Loy had marijuana and alcohol in his system. The plane did not have any other mechanical malfunctions during the crash, according to the report.

“The blood level was below the regulatory limit; however, pilots may be impaired below this threshold,” the report read.

NTSB investigators said in their report said the cause of the crash was “the pilot’s decision to fly at a low altitude, which resulted in the collision with a zipline.”

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