By Erin Hassanzadeh

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Before the four-seater single-engine plane crashed in Victoria, pieces of it fell off and landed in Jim Frey’s lawn just blocks away.

Investigators say it was portions of the left elevator and left horizontal stabilizer on the back end of the plane.

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“I got up out of my chair and I looked around my apple tree, there’s about six to seven-foot-long wing,” said Frey.

“That would definitely indicate that those fell off during flight,” said National Transportation Safety Board Investigator Mike Folkerts.

Without that piece of the plane, investigators say the pilot would have no control over where it lands.

The plane happened to land in a vacant lot but it could have been much worse as it’s right next to a highway, homes, and businesses.

“It kind of shook us up, we’re lucky it didn’t hit our house, I mean three pieces like that,” said Frey.

Piloting the plane was 72-year-old Dr. James Edney, a prominent surgeon from the Omaha, Nebraska area. His colleagues at the University of Nebraska Medical Center have referred to him as one of the top breast cancer specialists in the region.

His wife, Deborah Edney, says their son and daughter-in-law were also on board, 42-year-old Jacob Mertes and his 37-year-old wife, Sara Mertes, of Libby, Montana.

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NTSB investigators confirm no one survived the crash on Sunday.

“There was no distress call made,” said Folkerts.

But investigators say the plane was in contact with air traffic control before the crash.

It was coming from Alexandria and was 10 miles from its destination, the Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie. It was cleared to land just before the crash.

“Our only focus here is to prevent another tragedy,” said Folkerts.

There’s no black box in the 1992 plane, but there is some engine data that investigators will look at along with plane maintenance logs and the pilot’s history and medical records.

They’ll also review the weather conditions from Saturday and talk to other pilots who flew through the area that day.

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NTSB investigators say they will have a preliminary report in the next week or two. The full report could take 12-18 months.

Erin Hassanzadeh