A 16-year-old foreign exchange student who was spending his last week in the U.S. has been identified as the passenger who died when a small plane crashed into a home in a Sauk Rapids neighborhood on Friday night.
The St. Cloud Times reports that the student, Alexander Voigt, was from Germany and had been spending his junior year at Technical High School in St. Cloud. He had been in Minnesota for 10 months and was scheduled to fly home this week. Voigt had been hosted by St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis during his stay in the community.
Olson's daughter was friends with Voigt. Kleis said that Olson had agreed to give Voigt an aerial tour of the St. Cloud area so Voigt could take pictures. Kleis has been in contact with Voigt's parents, who will fly to St. Cloud this week to collect their son's remains.
"Three families are grieving," Kleis said, fighting back tears. "We're really one family now."
Witnesses told the National Transportation Safety Board that Olson was flying near an Allegiant Airlines plane, inbound from Arizona, before the crash. NTSB officials are investigating whether Olson's plane was caught in the larger airline's wake turbulence.
"When a plane flies through the air, it creates almost like a little tornado coming off those wing tips, but it's horizontal, Peter Knudson with the NTSB said. "So, instead of going up and down, it's side-to-side and trails the plane."
According to the Star Tribune, Courtney Breth saw Olson's plane just behind the Allegiant jet right before the plane nose-dived into the house.
Jeff Lewis, a retired air controller from Oregon who analyzes accident data and pushes for FAA reforms, told the Star Tribune that controllers are vigilant about preventing planes from getting behind or beneath another plane because wake turbulence can cause a smaller plane to lose control and flip.
The home’s owner, Jeff Hille, told the St. Cloud Times that one person, his brother-in-law Kole Heckendorf, was in the house at the time of the crash, but escaped uninjured.
FOX 9 says Heckendorf jumped to safety from a second-floor window of the home after the crash.