MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Just within a few hours Monday night, two plane crashes in Wisconsin and Minnesota took the lives of seven people.

The first crash happened around 5:30 p.m. near Amery, Wisconsin.

According to the authorities, the plane’s pilot was 44-year-old Daniel Ortner of North Hudson.

The passengers in his plane were 47-year-old Eric Larson and his two sons, 20-year-old Michael Larson and 18-year-old Matthew Larson. All three were from Hudson, Wisconsin.

The plane went down in a field in the town of Alden. Witnesses said they heard the plane Monday evening and saw it spiraling down to the ground. They also said the plane crashed into a ball of flames.

The victims’ remains were found after firefighters put out the fire in the plane and the field.

On Tuesday, investigators with the FAA were going through the wreckage and taking pictures of the crash site as they tried to find out what happened.

Wisconsin lawmaker Rep. Dean Knudson tweeted that two of the victims were recent Hudson High School graduates.

“We grieve with their family, and as a community,” Knudson said. “Please keep them in your prayers.”

The Hudson Fire Chief said both Eric and his son Michael worked for Xcel Energy. The younger brother, Matthew, hoped to follow in their footsteps and was in lineman school. He was also part of the Explorer program and had great interest in becoming a firefighter.

“He is one of the kids who came in and was always there, would always work, very mature, very humble. Just a well-grounded kid that you can tell he came from a good family,” Hudson Fire Chief Scott St. Martin said.

Xcel Energy’s CEO, Ben Fowke, released a statement saying the company shares in the “profound grief” in the loss of Eric, Matt and Dan.

“They were all part of the team that responds to restore power to their neighbors and communities after severe storms,” Fowke said. “Their commitment to their professions and communities will be a part of their legacy. They will be greatly missed.”

Michael Larson memorial at Hudson Fire Dept. (credit: CBS)

Matthew Larson memorial at Hudson Fire Dept. (credit: CBS)

The family of Ortner released a statement Tuesday afternoon.

“Dan loved flying and was a great pilot. He was a much loved family member, friend and member of the community. We are heartbroken and grieving for the family and friends of his passengers. We thank you for your prayers and messages and ask that you respect the difficulty of this time for both families.”

Daniel Ortner and his wife. (credit: Ortner Family)

Daniel Ortner and his wife. (credit: Ortner Family)

The Polk County (Wis.) Sheriff’s Office says the plane crashed about 10 minutes after it had taken off from the New Richmond Regional Airport.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

The Minnesota Crash

Monday’s second plane crash happened in western Minnesota around 8 p.m. near Holland in Pipestone County.

Sheriff’s officials say a plane carrying three people crashed in a cornfield.

Witness Travis Jasper, of nearby Sioux Falls, South Dakota, told KSFY-TV that he heard the plane sputter and then heard it crash.

Everyone onboard died.

The pilot was identified as 59-year-old Steven Christensen of rural Pipestone, 18-year-old Marcos Fevela of Torreon, Mexico, and a 13-year-old girl from Guadalajar, Mexico.

The Pipestone County Sheriff’s Office and Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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