Community comes together to remember victims of deadly plane crash


A small Warsaw planecrashed near a lake in SouthCarolina Friday, killing all four people on board.

Oconee County Emergency Services Deputy Chief Adam Williams said the crash happened around 3:10 p.m. on the shore of Lake Hartwell in a remote area.

The first report of the crash came in around 3:13 p.m., where police say they were informed of an airplane spiraling downward.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Berger said in an email that the wreckage of the 1984. single-engine, Piper PA-32 was found on the Georgia-South Carolina border.

Among the dead Charlie Smith, 71, who was piloting the plane had a long history of public service in Kosciusko County.

"He was intense. He loved to be out on lake, loved to fly, loved ND, was on way to ND game. He went to all games home and away he just was a friend who would do anything for you. Wasn't afraid to tell you what he thought," said Warsaw Mayor, Joe Thallmer.

"You really can't understate the impact that Charlie Smith had on this community," said David Findlay, the president and CEO of Lake City Bank in Warsaw who worked with Smith for 11 years. "As a city councilman he's been very active in politics, and more importantly he's been active in every aspect of this community He's continued since his retirement to stay engaged and committed and active in the community. Charlie was really the best this community has to offer."

"Charlie is an ex football coach, and while he stopped coaching in 1983 he never really stopped coaching," Findlay told WSBT 22. "He had a drive -- he had a commitment. He brought it every day to work and he took it with him everywhere he went. his greatest skill set that came out of the coaching experience was the ability to mentor people and teach people and to really make the most out of people he was given."

Charlie is survived by his wife Ann, daughter Michelle and his son Ryan.

Charlie's other son, Scott Smith, 44, a Warsaw attorney, was in the co-pilot seat and died with him.

Outside his law practice in Warsaw, someone placed a flower and balloon outside the door in a makeshift memorial.

Prior to practicing in Warsaw, Scott had worked with the St. Joseph County Prosecutor's Office in South Bend.

A former co-worker describes him as a champion of the people.

"Very good attitude. Everyone knew he was going to be a rising star in the legal profession for sure. He was someone that was firm with the law and in my mind I thought he would be a judge someday," said Jeff Bozman.

Smith was engaged to be married.

Scott Bibler, 51, of Warsaw also was on the plane. He was a counselor for a private agency who previously had put in a long career as a football coach and counselor at Tippy Valley.

"We're gonna heal from this, come together as a family, and get together and say goodbye to great person-- Coach Bibler," said 2008 Tippy Valley grad Ben Adams.

Bibler had recently just left his post at the school as a counselor and football coach to work as a counselor with a private agency. In part, the superintendent says it was a reaction to a youth suicide epidemic that hit the small tight-knit community.

"Of people I have known in my life, no one more sincere than Bibler. Lived his faith every day. Only comfort-- we know where Scott is now," said Brett Boggs, Tippecanoe Valley superintendent.

Outside the school, people gathered for counseling to cope with the four deaths.

"I have heard people say as a football coach he was too nice. I don't think you can ever care too much -- whether football players or not," Boggs said.

Scott Bibler is survived by his wife Stephanie and daughters Meagan and Chelsea.

Tony Elliott, 54, of Warsaw also died. He was a passenger on the plane. He was a sprint car driver who was well known in racing circles.

Hoosier Racing Tire shared a post on Facebook saying quote "Tony was a great person and competitor both on and off the track. He will be greatly missed in the racing community, but he will never be forgotten for what he did for racing."

Nascar stars like Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne remembered Elliott on social media.

Kahne tweeted about Elliott's death, saying "He was a great guy who always had a smile on his face. We had a lot of good races together. "

They even created a VIDEO in his honor.

All four men were all said to have been traveling to Clemson, South Carolina for the Notre Dame v. Clemson game.

Before the start of Saturday's game, Clemson took time to recognize them.

The National Transportation Safety Board is now in charge of releasing information about the investigation.

An NTSB spokesman says the wreckage is all still in place and recovery won't begin until next week. That process may even include searching a lake in the area for pieces of wreckage.

He also said the pilot, Charlie Smith, was flying with instruments at the time -- indicating it was cloudy and would have been reliant on instruments to fly the plane at the time of the crash. However, at this point, officials still are not commenting on what if any role weather played.

They say the obstacle for clean-up comes from the heavily wooded area and lake search that will need to be done.,

According to the NTSB, a preliminary report will be complete in one to two weeks and the final report in 12 months.

According to the Oconee County Coroner's Office-- Charles Smith, died from multiple injuries due to blunt force trauma. His son, Scott Smith, died from cervical spinal column trauma (fractured neck) due to blunt force trauma.

Monday autopsies are scheduled for Scott Bibler and Tony Elliott.

Warsaw Common Council to honor Smith

On Monday night the Warsaw Common Council will honor one of the victims in the wake of Friday's tragic plane crash.

Charlie Smith had been a common council member for 16 years and has a long history of public service in Kosciusko County.

Right now, the council is preparing to set aside time to recognize his important contributions. Each council member will take time to remember him.

The mayor says he has asked each council member to prepare a one to two minute presentation about Smith. The beginning of the meeting will be dedicated to remembering him.

Charlie was up for re-election next month. He was running unopposed on the ballot. Now his seat will have to be filled.

The city will be looking to state election laws to govern how they go about filling that position in the coming days and weeks.

Tippy Valley School Corp. remembers Scott Bibler

Brett Boggs, superintendent of schools for Tippecanoe Valley School Corp., issued the following statement to WSBT 22:

Our prayers are with the loved ones, families, and friends of Scott Bibler, Charlie Smith, Scott Smith, and Tony Elliot. Special prayers for Scott's wife, Stephanie, and their daughters, Chelsea and Meagan.

Scott Bibler was one of the most caring, sincere, and genuine men I have ever known. He had the rare ability to make everyone he encountered feel like they were a personal friend. He truly and sincerely cared about others.

During the past couple of years our schools and the community have dealt with numerous tragedies. Because Scott cared so much about our kids and the community, he was at the forefront of our efforts to help others heal and to prevent further tragedies. In moving to his new position with Crosswinds, he felt he could have an even greater impact on families and the community than he had as a school counselor.

Scott made a tremendously positive impact on many young men and women during his time on earth. We are forever grateful for the difference he made at Tippecanoe Valley.

Scott lived his faith every day and is now in the presence of our Savior. He will be missed by many left behind to grieve his passing.

Charlie Smith was the first head football coach at Tippecanoe Valley High School. He was an outstanding teacher and a highly successful football coach, leading the Vikings to an IHSAA State Championship in 1979 Coach Smith is a legend in our community. He also served a four-year term as a member of the Tippecanoe Valley School Board from July 1, 1986, through June 30, 1990.

His son, Scott Smith, is a Tippecanoe Valley High School graduate. Prior to his death, Scott served as a member of the TVHS Distinguished Alumni Committee.


On Sunday night WSBT 22 learned funeral arrangements have been finalized for the Smiths.

Vistiation and memorial services for Charlie and Scott will occur concurrently on Monday, October 12 from 2 to 8 p.m.

The dual funeral services will be Tuesday, October 13 at 10 a.m.

Tributes on both days will be at the Warsaw Community Church.

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