Fact Check: Plane Crash Victims Were NOT Headed To East Palestine, Ohio, To Investigate Train Derailment

Fact Check

  • by: Dana Ford
Fact Check: Plane Crash Victims Were NOT Headed To East Palestine, Ohio, To Investigate Train Derailment Bedford Bound

Were the victims of an Arkansas plane crash on their way to East Palestine, Ohio, to test the water, soil and air after a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed there? No, that's not true: The five victims, employees of CTEH -- an environmental consulting firm -- were headed to a metals plant in Bedford, Ohio, according to a CTEH spokesman.

The claim appeared in a Facebook post on February 27, 2023. Alongside a caption that read "#realnews #fillyouinonwhatsgoinon," the post included a TikTok video of a woman who asked:

So you mean to tell me that the five people that died in that plane crash outside of the 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?

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Mar 8 18:44:42 2023 UTC)

During the three-minute, 12-second video, the woman runs through a litany of conspiracy theories. This fact check focuses only on her comments regarding the Arkansas plane crash and the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment.

The woman in the video was referring to a crash that took place February 22, 2023, near the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock, Arkansas. The small plane crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all five people on board, according to Pulaski County Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. Cody Burk.

The victims, including the pilot, were employees of CTEH, said CTEH spokesman Denver Peacock. In an email to Lead Stories, dated March 8, 2023, he wrote that they were not headed to East Palestine to investigate the train derailment; rather, they were "responding to an incident at the [I.] Schumann and Company metals plant in Bedford, Ohio." A maintenance worker was reportedly killed and 13 others injured in an explosion at the plant on February 20, 2023.

CTEH identified the five plane crash victims as follows:

Lead Stories reached out to the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board to ask about the crash. We will update this story, as appropriate, if we receive responses.

Other Lead Stories fact checks of claims about the train derailment in Ohio can be found here.

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  Dana Ford

Dana Ford is an Atlanta-based reporter and editor. She previously worked as a senior editor at Atlanta Magazine Custom Media and as a writer/ editor for CNN Digital. Ford has more than a decade of news experience, including several years spent working in Latin America.

Read more about or contact Dana Ford

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