BELLEVUE, Iowa — A Bellevue man and woman died Thursday in a single-engine plane crash in northwest Ohio.
Friends say Steve Niemann was piloting the Beech A36 aircraft, accompanied by a friend, Tracey Hartnett, when the plane went down in a cornfield near Lima.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol responded to the crash at 4:42 p.m. Thursday, confirming two fatalities, and officials are waiting on information from the Allen County coroner before releasing further details.
Kevin Bunch, of Bellevue, described Hartnett as “an incredible human being and a dear, dear friend.” He said Hartnett had done work for Niemann before, such as landscaping and housecleaning, and was traveling to Ohio with Niemann to do some work for him there when the crash occurred.
“Aviation was a longtime love of Steve’s and he had a lot of flying experience,” Bunch said. “He was a nice man.” Niemann had a hangar in Bellevue that he used, though Thursday’s flight originated from Maquoketa. Bunch said Niemann had farmed in DeWitt along with his wife, Ann, and built a cabin in Bellevue several years ago.
Hartnett’s mother, Josa Combs, said Ohio authorities told her that the plane had been flying through heavy rainfall and dense clouds and had been in radio contact shortly before the crash.
Bunch said Hartnett moved to Bellevue several years ago to help her mother who was fighting cancer. “She came here with nothing, with four young sons, and she built herself up. She fought to build a better life here.”
That included putting herself through massage therapy school and building a practice. Hartnett worked for a time at the Center of I Am in Dubuque, and she had currently been working at Fringe Salon in Dubuque.
Hartnett’s sons range in age from 22 to 15, and she has an older son who lives in Texas. “Everything she did was with those boys in mind,” Bunch said.
Combs said the massage therapy work suited her daughter. “She had the tiniest little hands, but she was strong. She was really good at what she did,” Combs said.
Combs described her daughter as a hard worker and said her death will have a big impact on the Jackson County community. “She’s very well known in Bellevue. Everybody liked her.”