Ralf Bronnenmeier, chief executive officer of Grob Systems in Bluffton, has been identified as the pilot of the small plane that crashed just outside of Findlay around 1 a.m. Sunday, killing both occupants of the plane.
The name of the second passenger, a female, has not been released.
According to the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, the crash occurred at 1:11 a.m. on Hancock County 18, between Cass Township 215 and Hancock Road 216. The crash site is about a half-mile stretch of Hancock County 18 located about five miles northeast of Findlay.
The sheriff’s office reported the plane crashed in a ditch alongside Hancock County 18 near the intersection of Hancock County 216 in Cass Township.
The plane, a Lancair aircraft, was traveling from Holland, Michigan to Bluffton, according to the sheriff’s office. Lancair manufactures four different types of planes that typically seat two to four people, according to the company’s website.
Because of the crash investigation, Hancock County 18 was closed for most of the day until about 9 p.m., according to the sheriff’s office.
Besides the sheriff’s office, the National Transportation Safety Board also is investigating the crash. No additional details of the accident were available from the sheriff’s office Sunday night.
Bronnenmeier was named CEO of Grob Systems in January 2003. He first joined the Grob Group in 1994 and had worked both in Germany and the United States.
He also had served on Gov. John Kasich’s Executive Workforce Board since 2012. The goal of the board is to help streamline the 77 workforce programs in order to get more employers to use more programs, get more people trained and hired.
According to a 2011 article in the Bluffton News, Bronnenmeier took up flying after moving to the United States in 2003. He cited Grob’s proximity to Bluffton’s airport for stimulating his interest in becoming a pilot.
Grob Systems manufactures equipment enabling Detroit’s Big Three automakers to produce engines and transmissions. The Bluffton plant currently employs about 360 employees and has 323,000 square feet in production space as a result of an expansion completed this year.
Grob Systems opened in Bluffton in 1983. It is a subsidiary of Grob-Werke, which is located in Mindelheim, Germany.