Tragic Plane Crash Claims the Life of Pilot in Rural Forest County Area

MARIENVILLE, Pa. – A small plane crash in the rural Buzzard Swamp area of Forest County claimed the life of a Pennsylvania man on Friday, December 29, 2023. John S. Burley, 59, of Winber, was the sole occupant of the single-engine aircraft, a Zenith STOL CH 701, which was on its way to the Dubois Airport after taking off from Erie International in Erie, PA. The cause and manner of Burley’s death remain undetermined, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) were scheduled to arrive at the scene on Monday, January 1, 2024. An official statement regarding the cause and manner of death is expected to be released later in the week. The Forest County Coroner, Norman J. Wimer, reported that the aircraft was completely destroyed, yet there was no fire at the crash site. Despite the tragedy, Wimer praised the efforts of the Pennsylvania State Police, Elkland Search and Rescue from Saint Mary’s, and Forest County Emergency Management in responding to the incident, emphasizing the importance of their assistance in locating the crash site and helping to remove the remains from the wooded area.