Four people were killed in two separate crashes during an airshow in Wisconsin over the weekend — including the daughter of two-time Super Bowl-winning offensive lineman Bruce Collie — days after celebrating her third wedding anniversary.
Collie’s daughter, Devyn Reiley, 30, and her co-pilot Zach Colliemoreno, 20, were flying a World War II-era T-6 Texan as part of the AirVenture Oshkosh airshow when the aircraft plunged into Lake Winnebago at around 9 a.m. Saturday, five minutes after takeoff, according to the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA).
The vintage aircraft had reached 3,900 feet before plummeting into the lake.
Witnesses of the fatal crash said the plane was spinning uncontrollably on the way down before slamming into the water.
“I thought they were doing a trick at first,” said Brayden Hiebing, who had been fishing in the lake when the plane crashed, told NBC.
“I heard the plane start coming out of the sky, and it started like spinning and all of a sudden it just made a big splash,” said Hiebing.
The US Coast Guard began searching the lake that afternoon, with divers recovering both pilots’ bodies that evening, the branch tweeted.
An investigation is underway to determine what caused the first plane crash.
Later that day, around 12:30 p.m., a second disaster struck near the airshow after an ELA 10 Eclipse gyrocopter collided in mid-air with a RotorWay162F helicopter.
The pilot of the helicopter, Mark Peterson, 69, and passenger Thomas Volz, 72, were both killed.
A gyrocopter resembles a small helicopter, but its propeller is situated in the rear.
Two others were injured following the second crash but were transported to a local hospital in stable condition, the EAA revealed.
The aircraft involved in the second crash were not part of the airshow and were piloted by attendees.
Reiley, who co-owned a Texas-based flight school with her husband Hunter, was in Wisconsin for the event.
The couple had just celebrated their third wedding anniversary on July 26.
“All you wanted was to make the wasp proud. You earned your ‘Fifi’ wings,” Hunter wrote in a Facebook tribute to his wife.
The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) was a civilian women’s pilot association formed during WWII to help aid the war effort.
Reiley was the oldest of former San Francisco 49er Bruce Collie’s 13 children and is described by her younger sister as being “enchanted” with aviation.
“She was the older sister that was the one, everybody looked up to her,” Calyn Collie, 21, told the San Antonio Express. “Her love of aviation was always so evident from a young age.”
The Niners drafted Bruce Collie in 1985, with the offensive linemen winning two Super Bowls with the team in 1989 and 1990 before being traded to the Eagles and retiring in 1991.
Reiley became a certified private pilot in 2017, intending to become a certified commercial pilot, according to the Texas Warbird Museum, a nonprofit she co-founded with her husband and family to preserve retired WWII-era military aircraft.
The passenger involved in the second crash, Volz, was a US Air Force veteran attending the event with his grandson, according to Fox 19.
“They tell me they never knew what happened,” Volz’s wife of 52 years, Patty, told the outlet — sharing that their grandson called her to break the heartwrenching news.
“He said, ‘I hate to tell you this, Grammy, but Babi has passed away’ – that’s what they called him,” the widow said.
She shared that Peterson, who had been piloting the aircraft, was a highly experienced and trusted helicopter pilot, recalling she “just screamed and said, ‘No, he’s not! No, he’s not,” upon learning her husband was dead.
Despite the fatalities, the airshow reopened at around 2:45 p.m. following a short delay.