Man who crashed plane in Putnam County dies

Friday, March 27, 2009

An Indianapolis man who crashed the plane he was piloting into a Putnam County cornfield on March 7 has died.

Greencastle resident Beth Ann Newton, who was first on the accident scene the day of the crash and has become friends with Walter E. Fritz's family, confirmed that Fritz died Thursday at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.

Fritz, 79, was originally taken to Wishard Hospital, but was transferred to Methodist per his family's request several days later.

A report from the Putnamville Post of the Indiana State Police said Fritz took off on a solo flight from the Putnam County Airport around 10:25 a.m. on March 7, and shortly after that the plane went down in a farm field just west of C.R. 275E and C.R. 325S.

Newton said Fritz's death came as quite a shock, as he had been making remarkable progress.

"He was off the IV's, off the breathing tube and off the feeding tube," Newton said. "He was eating."

Then on Thurday, Fritz's heart stopped. Newton said it is unknown whether or not the heart attack was connected to the injuries Fritz sustained in the plane crash.

On the day of the accident, Fritz was heading home after having breakfast with a friend in Putnam County. Although no official reports on the mishap have been released, Newton said Fritz's family believes he encountered engine trouble and tried to put the plane down in the field.

Newton said she was just driving by when she saw the plane go down.

"I kept him talking until the ambulance came," she said. "He was conscious, but he was very badly injured."

Ruby Craig, a nurse from Methodist who lives in Reelsville, also happened by the scene and stopped, Watson said.

"(Craig) would go in and check on (Fritz)," Newton said. "I've become good friends with his daughter and one of his sons. He has five children."

View 3 comments
Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. Please note that those who post comments on this website may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.
  • Anyone who didn't know that Beth's last name is Newton-Watson would go crazy trying to make any sense of this article. "Who is this Watson person?" they would ask.

    -- Posted by chp on Fri, Mar 27, 2009, at 12:35 PM
  • First of all, the man's name was WALTER Fritz, not William. How disrespectful to not even get his name right!

    Second, the Banner should NEVER have treated Mrs. Newton as the main source to this story. Yes, she contacted the editor to inform her of Mr. Fritz death, but she SPECIFICALLY said she was not sure whom the banner would need to contact next, in order to confirm information. Mrs. Newton only thought they might want to know that this man had passed.

    Third, it is just absolutely amazing that after living in this community for over 19 years, people can never quite understand that there are two separate individuals: there is a Beth Ann Newton and an entirely different woman named Beth Newton-Watson. They are NOT the same person.

    -- Posted by phetbanz on Fri, Mar 27, 2009, at 11:15 PM
  • Oh look! Here's what was written in on the site about this story:

    An Indianapolis man injured in a Putnam County plane crash has died.

    Walter E. Fritz, 80, was the pilot of a Vans RV3-A home-built experimental plane that he was flying from the Putnam County Airport. The crash happened on March 7 just after Fritz had taken off from the airport. Fritz died on Thursday.

    The cause of the crash remains under investigation and an autopsy report by the Marion County coroner is pending. Fritz was alone in the plane, according to Indiana State Police.

    At least *they* did not quote Mrs. Newton without her permission.

    -- Posted by phetbanz on Fri, Mar 27, 2009, at 11:28 PM
Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: