The Nebraska State Patrol has identified two men killed in a plane crash about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday six miles east of North Platte.
The two occupants are believed to be Adam Helmerichs, 41, and Zachary Clausen, 22, both of Lincoln, according to the patrol. Next of kin has been notified and both families have confirmed that the two were traveling together, the patrol said. Helmerichs was the pilot.
Final positive identification is pending additional investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.
The Federal Aviation Administration report indicates the plane was a Piper PA46. The aircraft is powered by a single engine and can carry one pilot and five passengers.
The plane crashed under “unknown circumstances,” according to the report.
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The original call came in to law enforcement as a possible grass fire. When firefighters arrived, the plane crash was discovered next to a private pond south of Novacek Road and Interstate 80, about six miles east of North Platte.
Flight records show the plane had left the Lincoln Airport earlier in the morning and crashed as it approached the North Platte airport to land.
It’s unclear what led up to the crash, which is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board. A spokesperson for the board did not respond to an inquiry Thursday afternoon.
Helmerichs, the president of Diamond Concrete Cutting Inc., was instrumental in removing the Pershing Center mural in Lincoln in July.
Clausen, who graduated from Lincoln East High School in 2019, became a father of one and had started his own excavation company in the years since.
The 22-year-old had been a high school football star at Lincoln Lutheran, where he amassed 3,000 passing yards in three seasons before transferring to East ahead of his senior year, garnering interest from Division I programs.
The Lincoln Journal Star contributed to this report.