Two Purdue students killed in Noblesville plane crash

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NOBLESVILLE - Two Purdue University students were killed in a plane crash Thursday.

Police say the 21-year-old pilot of a light aircraft died along with his passenger when they crashed on a golf course Thursday evening.

Joshua D. Deboer of Chicago Heights, Illinois was flying the plane. His passenger was identified as Joseph Neuzerling of Noblesville. Both men were 21 years old.

Purdue says Deboer, a senior, and Neuzerling, a junior, majored in mechnical engineering. Both students lived off campus and may have been roommates.

The men took off at 4:30 pm from Purdue. The light sport aircraft was registered to DB Aircraft LLC out of Lynwood, Illinois.

"This is a tragic loss for not only their family and friends, but for everyone in the Purdue community. Both these young men had bright futures," said Jeanne Norberg, spokesperson for Purdue University.

Police kept guard at the crash scene all night. Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board will get to Noblesville's North Harbour subdivision Friday morning.

Noblesville Police said the single-engine plane crashed on the Harbour Trees golf course near Morse Reservoir just after 5:00 pm Thursday.

Neighbors looked on, wondering what caused the crash that for some was right in their backyards.

"I heard a plane fly overhead, which is not abnormal. Planes fly over here all the time," said Jen Reno. But what Reno heard next, she said, didn't seem right.

"I heard a loud bang that sounded like a piece of plywood smacking against the ground," she added.

"It was just kind of loud.  Sounded like a cannon going off," added another neighbor, Ethan Shepherd.

"At that point, I took off running out of my house," continued Reno.

When she did, Reno and dozens of others saw the wreckage of a single engine plane on the Harbour Trees Golf Course in the middle of their Noblesville neighborhood.

"Went up to the scene and uh, they had already looked I guess and the pilot had no pulse.  It was leaking gasoline so everybody just stood back.  They called.  They'd already called 911," explained Bob Loudermilk.

"The accounts that we're getting so far is that the airplane made a nose dive to its current location where it is right now," said Noblesville Police Lieutenant Bruce Barnes.

Investigators didn't know if the pilot was trying to land the plane in the middle of the wide-open golf course.  They said the crash was tragic because two people died, but also said it was fortunate the plane crashed on the golf course and not into one of the nearby homes. 

"We don't know what was happening in terms of mechanical problems or things along those lines.  Much to early to determine that so, we'll just have to wait until the investigation gets on its way," said Lieutenant Barnes.

A search of the plane's tail number showed it was a single engine two seater light aircraft made in Germany, often used in training.