Snider Grad/Purdue Student Involved in Plane Crash Dies

By Maureen Mespell
By Krystal Shull
By John W. Davis

February 27, 2011 Updated Feb 27, 2011 at 6:34 PM EDT

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) -- Snider High School Graduate Tony Cole died Saturday from critical injuries following a February 15, 2011 plane crash.

The 22-year-old was pronounced brain dead a few days ago.

Cole had been put in a medically-induced coma shortly after the accident due to swelling of the brain.

He was pulled off life support and passed away Saturday.

Cole was student at Purdue University and a member of the Beta Theta Pi - Beta Mu Chapter.

Indiana's NewsCenter interviewed Beta Theta Pi Beta Mu Chapter Alumni Board President Cary Wood by phone Sunday.

"He was just a really, really good kid."," said Wood.

Wood said Beta only recruits the best of the best.

Wood shared that he met with Cole three weeks ago to work on a fund raising project.

"He's smart, he's articulate... I was taken with his humility," said Wood.

Cole was flying a 1942 vintage plane when he crashed near Americus, Indiana on February 15.

Investigators think Cole lost control when he was turning the plane.

Cole's passenger and frat brother Tom Williams was able to walk away from the crash.

He suffered injuries but was released from the hospital last week.

Meanwhile, this is the second tragedy to hit the Beta Theta Pi fraternity in less than a year.

"You may not know this but we had a death in this house last spring.
A young undergrad who was in an accident off-campus over spring break. He drowned," revealed Wood.

Wood is the CEO of Sparton Corporation based outside of Chicago, Illinois.

Although he is not physically there, he said it is his obligation to be available during this time of need.

"Everyday. Multiple times of the day, the middle of the night on many occasions in the form of texts and email and even phone calls with these kids... They're just trying to make sense of it. They're emotional," said Wood.

Cole was a building construction management major.

He was also a highly experienced pilot who had served on Purdue flight teams, including one that won fifth place at a Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference in 2008.

Beta Theta Pi has been on the Purdue University camps since the early 1900's.

Currently the fraternity has about 120 on-campus members, 60 of which lived with Cole at the Beta Theta Pi house.

"We're currently in the midst of trying to plan a way to coordinate getting them all to Fort Wayne for an upcoming funeral this week," stated Wood.

The Federal Aviation Administration is still investigating the crash.

A final report could take up to two months.

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