Written by: The Associated Press

Published by: The Seattle PI

ELYRIA, Ohio — A small plane crashed Monday as it approached the Cleveland area from Gainesville, Fla., killing at least three of the four people aboard, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The plane was approaching the Lorain County Regional Airport in Elyria shortly after 2 p.m. when it crashed, said FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory. It was not immediately clear whether the fourth passenger survived.

Melinda Mengelson of Florahome, Fla., the wife of co-pilot John Mengelson, 47, said authorities told her that her husband was one of the three people who died.

He and pilot Wesley Roemer worked for Kenneth Brown, the president of Kenn Air Corp., Mengelson said. She said Brown’s parents, Donald and Shirley Brown, of Lorain County, Ohio, also were aboard.

Donald Brown is credited with inventing drop ceilings, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland reported.

Authorities have not publicly identified the crash victims. A message seeking comment was left for Lorain County Coroner Paul Matus.

An FAA database shows that the fixed-wing, multiengine MU-2B-60 turboprop plane is owned by Mitts Corp. of Gainesville and was manufactured by Mitsubishi.

New York-based Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America Inc. planned to be at the site Tuesday.

The company released a statement to say its “thoughts and prayers are with the families of the pilot and passengers.

“This is the first fatal MU-2 accident in almost 4 years,” the statement said. MU-2 series planes were involved in 21 fatal accidents from 1997 to early December 2008, according to Mitsubishi.

The series was manufactured between 1967 and 1985, and the planes carry seven to 10 people can also be used for cargo.

About 370 operate in the U.S., and Mitsubishi still supports the vehicles.

The cause of the crash hasn’t been determined. Isham Cory said the FAA is investigating and the National Transportation Safety Board will lead the inquiry.