Plane Crash Kills 3 East Texans - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/3/06-New Summerfield

Plane Crash Kills 3 East Texans

Officials say the Cessna 172H was being piloted by 25 year old Michael Smith. They say it was his families plane, registered to his father's farm in Jacksonville.

Smith was carrying two New Summerfield High School students with him, freshman John Gartman and Robert Loughmiller,  a junior who was three days from his 17th birthday.

Lea Colby was John's english and geography teacher. She says he really was the kind of student every teacher wants in her classroom

"He had a lot of life in him, and he was real quick on the uptake and kept his teachers on their toes and was a just real good, active young man," says Colby.

English teacher Melinda Orsak says Robert was an outgoing kid who was active in UIL academics and the school newspaper.

"He knew everybody in New Summerfield. He knew who grew up here and who had moved here. I teased him and called him an 'old bitty' cause he knew everything," says Orsak.

The teachers say they will work with their students to help them get through this time.

"I'm going to let them talk about it. That's all I know to do. I don't have the answers. I don't know why these kinds of things happen to young people," says Orsak.

They say when school starts back up Thursday, there will be a definite void because the two students are not with them.

We're told Michael Smith was a youth pastor at First Baptist Church in New Summerfield which is where the two boys attended church.

The senior pastor tells us Smith was going to Mexico for dental surgery and asked the boys if they wanted to go along.

Lindsay Wilcox/Reporting:


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