One dead in Portage County plane crash

A destroyed plane sits in the backyard of a Shalersville resident’s home after the plane crash landed Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017. The unidentified pilot of the plane was killed in the crash.

Rachel Duthie

A small plane crashed near a home in Portage County after take-off at a local airport.

The crash occurred at 7979 Nicodemus Rd. in Shalersville Township, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

The OSHP pronounced the operator of the plane dead at the scene.

A former owner of the plane confirmed Stephen Paulus, 60, of Rootstown as the pilot. Paulus was a Kent State alumni and veteran of the U.S. Air Force. 

On the Portage Lakes Career Center website, where Paulus was employed as an electrical technology instructor, his profile says his hobby was “flying his own airplane” and he “..built his first airplane himself, and flew it for 5 years.”

“Our initial report says the pilot was just flying out enjoying his day,” said Sgt. Scott Louive from the Ravenna division of the OSHP.

No passengers were on the aircraft. EMS and FAA were also on the scene.

The plane is believed to have crashed hours earlier, but the Portage County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call from residents of the home around 5:40 p.m.

The plane dropped down from the air, hitting the side of the deck and then veering off into the grass.

The single-engine plane, which officers described as a “home-built” plane, was taking off from Portage County Regional Airport.

Paulus earned his Sport Pilot certificate from the Federal Aviation Association on Oct. 6, 2010.

The plane, a 2017 Titan Tornado II D, is classified as an amateur-built, experimental aircraft. It is still licensed to its former owner, Paul Piper, of Waynesfield, Ohio.

The OSHP said the cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Note: This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Rachel Duthie is the features editor. Contact her at [email protected].