There are certain dates that people can remember instantly. For the average person 9/11, 7/4, 12/25 are dates that trigger something inside you. If you were in Owatonna on July 31st, 2008 that might be a date that also triggers a memory for you. It was on that Thursday in July that East Coast Jets Flight 81 crashed after attempting a go-round at the Degner Regional Airport. 

The flight which originated from Atlantic City, NJ was set to land at 9:45 am at the Degner Regional Airport. Before the flight had reached Southern Minnesota, thunderstorms rocked the area with a peak recorded wind gust of 63mph recorded at the airport about an hour before the plane was expected to land.

Weather wasn't the only factor to go into the crash, the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) also cited pilot fatigue and contributing to the accident were (1) the pilots’ poor crew coordination and lack of cockpit discipline; (2) fatigue, which likely impaired both pilots’ performance; and (3) the failure of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to require crew training.

Killed in the crash were all 8 individuals on the flight, the two pilots, and 6 passengers. The passengers on board the flight were coming to discuss a $2 billion hotel-casino complex being built in Atlantic City with Owatonna based glassmaker Viracon.

The accident victims were:

  • Karen Sandland, 44, a project manager for Tishman Construction Corp. who was working on the Revel project. Sandland worked out of Tishman's Newark, New Jersey office.
  • Two pilots, Clark Keefer of Bethlehem, Pa., and Dan D'Ambrosio of Hellertown, Pa.
  • Two executives of APG International, a Glassboro, N.J., company that specializes in glass facades: Marc Rosenberg, the company's chief operating officer, and Alan Barnett, its assistant project manager.
  • Revel Vice President Tony Craig
  • Revel Vice President Chris Daul, 44, of Northfield;
  • Director of field operations for Revel Lawrence "Chip" Merrigan