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Second-grade teacher among victims of Minnesota plane crash

The crash happened after an air control tower saw the Cessna leave radar less than two miles away from the Duluth International Airport.

HERMANTOWN, Minn. — Three people died after a Cessna airplane crashed into a two-story home in Hermantown, Minnesota, local police say.

According to the Hermantown Police Department, two men from Burnsville and a woman from St. Paul died in the crash overnight Saturday. All three were in their 30s, police say. Officials have identified the victims as 32-year-old Alyssa Schmidt, of St. Paul, her brother Matthew Schmidt, 31, of Burnsville and Tyler Fretland, 32, of Burnsville.

A representative for ISD 196 confirmed that Alyssa Schmidt was a long-time teacher at Echo Park Elementary School of Leadership, Engineering and Technology in Burnsville, where she led and taught "with love, care and selflessness." She was teaching second-grade this year.

"We are deeply saddened over the tragic loss of three lives, including an incredibly talented young teacher who positively impacted students every day," said a spokesperson in a released statement. "District 196 and the Echo Park school community are focused on supporting staff, students and families through this sudden and difficult loss."

Credit: ISD 196-Burnsville
A spokesperson for ISD 196 in Burnsville said Alyssa Schmidt was a longtime teacher who taught "with love, care and selflessness."
Credit: Kim Slota
Matthew Schmidt was one of three people killed in a plane crash in Hermantown, Minnesota.

Just before midnight Saturday, police say they were alerted by the control tower at Duluth International Airport that a Cessna 172 airplane had dropped off the radar and was believed to have crashed. The control tower added that the plane's last known location was about a mile or a mile and a half south of the airport.

Police officers and fire crews responded to the 5100 block of Arrowhead Road and found the missing plane had crashed into the second floor of a home before coming to a stop in the backyard.

Two people were inside the home when the Cessna crashed into it but miraculously, neither was injured. 

“We woke up to the sound of what sounded like a bomb going off,” recalled Jason Hoffman, who was sleeping along with his wife Crystal when they woke to an airplane crashing through their home. "The dust from the insulation was so thick we could barely see each other."

"I was able to grab a flashlight next to the bed and the first thing I saw was an airplane wheel sitting at the end of our bed,” Hoffman said. “That’s when we looked out and noticed the entire back half our our house was gone.”

Hoffman said the wreckage of the plane wound up wedged between his truck and the garage.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will continue to investigate the crash to determine what caused the plane to go down. 

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