Plane carrying canceled checks crashes

COLUMBUS – A small charter airplane carrying canceled bank checks crashed about a mile from the takeoff runway yesterday morning, killing the pilot and a charter company employee who were on board, authorities said.

The single-engine Cessna Caravan aircraft chartered by AirNet Systems Inc. had left Rickenbacker International Airport for Buffalo, N.Y., said Bob Lentz, a spokesman for Columbus-based AirNet.

Killed were the pilot, James A. Babcock, 58, of Wooster, and a passenger, Michael B. Bratek, 34, of Blasdell, N.Y., the Pickaway County sheriff’s office said. Both were pronounced dead at the scene, the sheriff’s office said.

No one on the ground was injured, authorities said.

The plane lost contact with the airport air traffic control tower shortly after its takeoff at about 7 a.m. and crashed in Pickaway County, south of the airport, said Columbus Regional Airport Authority spokeswoman Angie Tabor.