Two men killed in plane crash in Brazoria County

By Gianna Caserta - Reporter, Mark Boyle - Reporter

BRAZORIA COUNTY, Texas - Two people are dead after a plane crashed in the San Bernard Wildlife Refuge area of Brazoria County.

The 1979 fixed-wing, single-engine Piper is registered to 63-year-old David Leining, from Santa Fe in Galveston County. His body, along with retired DPS trooper Robert Mena, 57, were discovered around 10 a.m. Tuesday off County Road 306.

"A passerby driving by on the road saw the wreckage and called 911 emergency," said Tom Latson, air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board.

The NTSB is leading the investigation. They said both the victims were restrained.

"The pilot was accompanied by a certified flight instructor and they had left the Pearland Regional Airport earlier that morning," said Latson.

They were seen on surveillance video refueling the plane before they left Pearland Regional Airport. But officials say they aren't sure who was actually flying the plane.

"Most aircrafts like this have dual controls, unless you were sitting in the aircraft, you wouldn't know which person had their hands on the controls," Latson said.

Officials said the aircraft rolled several times and came to a rest with its nose facing north.

Other agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration as well as investigators from the aircraft manufacturer and the airframe manufacturer, will also assist the NTSB.

"We will likely remove the engine this afternoon, and take it to a secure location. We will do a tear down examination of the engine and closer inspection of the propeller," said Latson.

Leining was the supervisor of the BP refinery in Texas City during the 2005 explosion. He survived but suffered several broken bones.

"He was a great community man and he loved his church and he loved his friends and his friends loved him. The thing I'll always remember most about him was his compassion and his generosity," said friend Dan Lovett.

"He meant a lot to the archery world, to his family and that is what life revolved around and his family. And what he meant to his friends. It's a real tragedy," said friend Donnie Ekstrom.

Friends told KPRC 2 that Leining enjoyed flying, hunting and archery. He owned an archery store in Santa Fe where his family lives. Leining is survived by his wife and four children.

Mena, of League City, retired from DPS in 2009.

There is no word yet on what caused the crash.

Federal investigators are on scene looking at evidence.

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