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Five environmental consulting firm employees were en route to Cleveland on Feb. 22 to investigate an explosion at a metals plant when their plane crashed in Arkansas shortly after takeoff, killing everyone on board.
Despite claims, the people onboard the plane were not going to East Palestine, Ohio, where a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed.
Misinformation continues to circulate about a train derailment in Ohio, including one claim about a group of environmental consultants that was killed in a plane crash.
"So you mean to tell me that the five people that died in that plane crash outside of Clinton airport in Little Rock, Arkansas, yesterday was a team of five that were supposed to go to Ohio to test the water, the soil and the air quality in East Palestine?" said the narrator in a TikTok video reshared to Facebook on Feb. 27. The text overlay on the video reads, "What is going on?!"
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The people killed in the plane crash were not traveling to East Palestine, Ohio — where a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed Feb. 3 — to investigate that accident’s environmental impact.
They were employees of CTEH, an Arkansas-based environmental consulting group that helps companies, governments and communities prepare for and recover from environmental threats, according to its website. On Feb. 22, the group was flying from Little Rock to Cleveland.
CTEH spokesperson Denver Peacock told PolitiFact that the team was "responding to an incident at the Schumann and Company metals plant in Bedford, Ohio." The Feb. 20 incident was a fatal explosion that killed one worker and injured 13 others.
The team members were identified as Gunter Beaty, 23, production safety data manager; Kyle Bennett, 36, staffing manager, logistics; Micah Kendrick, 41, safety supervisor;
Glenmarkus Walker, 32, rapid responder; and Sean Sweeney, 64, the pilot. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the cause of the crash.
We rate the claim that "the five people that died in that plane crash…were supposed to go to Ohio to test the water, the soil and the air quality in East Palestine" False.
Facebook post, Feb. 27, 2023
CTEH About Us page, accessed March 7, 2023
CBS, At least 1 killed, more than 10 injured in explosion at Ohio metal plant, Feb. 21, 2023
Associated Press, 5 die in small airplane crash in Little Rock, Feb. 22, 2023
Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Family of former Clinton aide seek order sealing images from scene of his death, June 8, 2022
PolitiFact, Former Clinton White House aide wasn't murdered, Feb. 23, 2023
Email interview, Denver Peacock, CTEH spokesperson, March 7, 2023
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