Two small planes collided over a hospital parking lot Tuesday, killing three people, including a popular radio show host.
Bob Collins, the host of Chicago’s top-rated morning program for the last decade, was in a plane that crashed onto the hospital’s roof, said WGN-AM spokeswoman Debbie Linch. The other person on the plane, 58-year-old Herman Luscher, was also killed.
The other plane, a four-seat Cessna 172, crashed into a nearby street, killing the one person on board, Zion Fire Chief David LaBelle said.
Collins, 57, had been at the talk and sports station since 1974.
“We were just talking this morning about how safe flying is,” said Tom Peterson, WGN-AM’s news director and the news anchor on Collins’ show.
Collins’ show blended news and talk, including calls from listeners and frequent interviews with public officials such as Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and Gov. George Ryan and former Gov. Jim Edgar.
“He sort of presided over a daily town meeting of Chicago,” said Robert Feder, television and radio columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times. “His show could run the gamut from what was in the news to what was on listeners’ minds--whatever struck his fancy.”
Collins co-owned the two-seat aerobatic plane that crashed on the hospital roof.
The impact of the crash blew the windows out of the top floor of Midwestern Regional Medical Center. Two hospital workers were slightly burned and the hospital was evacuated, hospital President Roger Cary said.
Les Mussared said he was standing in a parking lot near the hospital when the planes crashed.
“I looked up because I heard a gurgling noise. I saw two small planes collide in the air. They pulled away from each other,” Mussared said.
The Cessna was registered to ATE of New York, a flying school. A message to the company’s office in Chicago was not returned.
Preliminary reports indicated both planes were approaching the Waukegan Airport, near the site of the collision.
Zion is about 45 miles north of downtown Chicago, near the Illinois-Wisconsin line.