Longtime school board member killed in West Caln Township, Pa. plane crash

Friday, February 2, 2024
Longtime school board member killed in West Caln Township, Pa. plane crash
Octorara Area School District School Board President Sam Ganow was killed when a small plane crashed Thursday in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

WEST CALN TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A longtime school board member was killed when a small plane crashed Thursday afternoon in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

The crash was reported at about 1:40 p.m. in a neighborhood in West Caln Township.

The small plane, a twin-engine Gulfstream American GA-7, crashed in an area between a home and some trees in the 500 block of Old Wilmington Road.

The victim was identified as 65-year-old Sam Ganow, of Cochranville, Pa., who was the school board president for the Octorara Area School District

"It was unbelievable. It's a shock," said Jill Hardy who is the Octorara Area School District Board of Directors secretary and superintendent's secretary. "Tragedies are tragedies, and they're hard to put your head around."

"Just the most caring, compassionate individual," added Hardy. "He would give you the last dollar in his wallet and the shirt off his back."

Sam Ganow
Image provided by the Ganow family

FlightAware shows the plane went down on Amish property in the backyard of a house about two minutes after taking off from the Chester County Airport.

"We got lucky. The plane was really close to the house," said West Caln Township Police Chief Curt Martinez. "The witnesses say the plane just missed the house."

An NTSB investigator will arrive at the crash site on Friday to document the scene and examine the aircraft, and then it will be taken to a secure facility for further evaluation.

Hardy said Ganow was a pilot for more than 15 years and he joined "Rebuild Rescue," which is a group in Chester County that repairs abandoned airplanes and posts their process on YouTube.

Action News learned the plane that crashed was featured in "Rebuild Rescue," and Hardy said Ganow was flying to Nashville for a friend.

"I know he was doing what he wanted to do and enjoying it and loving every minute of it," Hardy. "He was not only doing what he loved, but he was doing something for someone."

The FAA shows the plane is owned by Mr. Dent Inc. located in Lancaster County.

NTSB said a preliminary report about the crash will be available within 30 days.