Knox County Judge Killed After Plane Crashes In Illinois

(LAWRENCEVILLE, Ill) – A small plane crashed Saturday in southeastern Illinois, killing the pilot who was an Indiana judge.

Just before 5 a.m. Saturday, the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department in Indiana received a call about an overdue airplane that should have landed at an airport in Lawrence County Illinois.

The wreckage of the single-engine Cirrus SR22 was discovered a few miles from an airport in Lawrence County, Illinois, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Knox County Judge Ryan Johanningsmeier

The pilot, judge Ryan Johanningsmeier, was the only person aboard the plane, said Sullivan County Indiana Sheriff Clark Cottom.

Cottom’s deputies began to investigate the incident after the plane stopped in Sullivan County Indiana, and fueled up before taking off, but didn’t arrive in Lawrence County Illinois as planned.

Sullivan County Sheriff Clark Cottom requested an Indiana State Police helicopter, but because of fog, it couldn’t be used.

Around 8:00 a.m. another pilot reported what they believed was wreckage about three-miles north of the Lawrence County airport in Illinois.

Now, the FAA, Lawrence County Illinois Sheriff’s Office, and the Lawrence County Coroner’s Office in Illinois are investigating the crash.

Upon learning the news of Judge Johanningsmeier’s death, Chief Justice Loretta Rush provides the following statement:

“The Indiana Judiciary sends its condolences to Knox Superior Court 2 Judge Ryan Johanningsmeier’s family and community. His tragic death leaves his staff and loved ones in mourning and we join them. As a problem-solving court judge, he helped provide defendants with a new path in life allowing those most in need of restorative justice to work for a better tomorrow. As his loved-ones mourn his passing, we express our sincere sympathy,” said Loretta H. Rush, Indiana Chief Justice