Continued government shutdown stalls FAA investigation into deadly plane crash

Continued government shutdown stalls FAA investigation into plane crash

SAGINAW COUNTY, MI (WJRT/CNN) - A plane crash investigation in Michigan is on hold because of the ongoing government shutdown.

As a result, police in Saginaw County said they are being forced to rack up extra costs.

Bill Burns, 83, of Vernon, MI, a former flight instructor, died when the small plane he was flying crashed into a building over the weekend.

While Burns’ body has been carefully removed from the wreckage, the damaged plane remains on the site.

Saginaw County Sheriff Bill Federspiel has been in law enforcement for more than three decades and said he has never seen a situation like this before.

"You talk about an airplane crash, on a holiday weekend, with a government shutdown, no I haven't," he said.

Because of that government shutdown which is entering its second week, the Federal Aviation Administration confirms it cannot send out of a crash investigator at this time.

So Federspiel's department, which includes his reserve officers, guard the crash site.

He said the FAA initially wanted to have its own medical examiner do the autopsy, but it wasn’t clear on when that would happen.

"We reached a compromise (that) they will send a kit to us, and then the kit will be utilized by our medical examiner,” Federspiel said. “It's a special kit, a procedural kit, on what the FAA expects out of the autopsy."

The autopsy has not been done yet.

Witnesses told deputies that Burns' plane seemed to lose power before the crash.

Federspiel said he will be back in touch with the FAA on Jan. 2 to see what will happen next.

There is also a cost to guarding the crash scene and it appears there is no end to the government shutdown in sight.

“It may end up being where we have that plane taken from the scene and stored at a hangar, maybe at our hangar at MBS or Harry Browne Airport until they come, that’s my option for them if they say they can’t come right away, we are not going to guard a plane in a park forever,” Federspiel said.

An FAA spokesman could not say when the investigation might get underway.

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