SOUTH BEND, Ind.--Christmas is a time of hope, family and reflection. For five families, this year marks the 10th holiday season without loved ones after a tragic 2006 airplane crash. Without the answers needed for closure, they have spent the better part of the last decade searching for the truth.
At approximately 11:40 p.m. on Thursday, April 20, 2006, a Cessna airplane piloted by Georgina Joshi crashed while on final approach to Bloomington/Monroe County Airport in Bloomington, Ind., killing her and all passengers onboard – Garth Eppley, Chris Carducci, Robert Samels and Zachary Novak. These five friends were accomplished musical performers, returning to their graduate program at Indiana University from a rehearsal in Lafayette, Ind.
“It was the most heartbreaking day of my life when we found out,” said Yatish Joshi, father of Georgina. “To make matters worse, the ensuing investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) did not leave us with peace of mind.”
The NTSB issued its Probable Cause Report more than a year later (445 days), ruling the cause of the crash as ‘pilot error’. The report left many questions unanswered.
Unsatisfied with the NTSB’s conclusions, Joshi retained independent experts to review the available information and further investigate the accident. The experts conducted extensive testing, including full scale reconstruction of the accident flight. They uncovered new evidence that contradicted the NTSB’s pilot error determination and indicated the presence of a second plane in the area at the time of the accident.
Despite numerous attempts to locate this person, the pilot of the second plane remains unknown and the families’ search continues.
“On behalf of Garth, Chris, Robert, Zachary and Georgina, I am appealing to the pilot of the second plane to come forward and help us discover what happened that evening,” said Joshi. “During this time of the year, please look into your heart and help the families of those who were lost uncover the truth. Your insights will help to put our hearts and minds to rest, and hopefully prevent similar accidents in the future.”
Earlier this year, Joshi, a prominent business and community leader in South Bend, Ind., founded the movement Safe Skies For All (SSFA). SSFA’s mission is to improve procedures in the investigations of general aviation accidents and to encourage the NTSB – the government agency responsible for these investigations – to be accountable for the thoroughness of its investigations, leading to accurate findings, and to ensure recommendations are made so that safety is continually improved.
“The five friends will live on through their amazing accomplishments and the change we hope to effect,” continued Joshi. “Through this movement, we want to ensure other families never have to endure a similar tragedy.”