The Daily Herald has an article updating information about the injured pilot from the crash on December 22 as well as statements from witnesses. Previous posts about the crash are HERE and HERE.

Below are excerpts from the Daily Herald article. The complete article can be read HERE.

Pilot in Wheeling plane crash remains critical after surgery

Todd Cole, 36, of Jacksonville, Ill., underwent surgery Monday at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood to repair broken ankles and transplant skin grafts to his face and hands after suffering burns to 30 percent of his body …

“Apparently he was on fire in the cockpit, but was able to get out,” …

Instantly killed in the crash was Cole’s passenger, 18-year-old Benjamin VanHyning of Jacksonville. VanHyning, an employee at Jacksonville Municipal Airport, had volunteered to keep Cole company on the flight …

Though the investigation continues, the NTSB this week released a preliminary report on the crash.

The report states Cole contacted air traffic control shortly after his 2:45 p.m. takeoff saying he needed to return to Chicago Executive Airport because the single-engine Beechcraft Sierra was vibrating and losing power.

“Witnesses reported that the airplane appeared to be having difficulty gaining altitude after takeoff,” the report reads. “They stated that the airplane leveled off at an altitude of 50 to 100 feet above the runway. The airplane remained at that altitude until it entered a left descending turn prior to impact. The witnesses reported they heard the engine running and that it was normal.”

(the plane’s owner) … said he’d learned from the plane’s previous owner that its engine was defective and in need of a major overhaul. This overhaul took place at a repair shop in Michigan before being returned to Wheeling and reinstalled, according to the statement.