updated 4/1/2008 7:54:15 PM ET 2008-04-01T23:54:15

Two pilots struggled frantically to stabilize their plane in the moments before a crash last year that killed both men and a four-member organ transplant team, according to a transcript of a flight recording.

The transcript was released to the Detroit Free Press and excerpted in a story published Tuesday.

"I'm fighting the controls, Dennis," Marlin Air pilot Bill Serra tells his co-pilot, Dennis Hoyes, soon after taking off from Milwaukee on June 4.

After alerts begin to sound and a few more exchanges, Serra says, "Dennis, she's rolling on me. Help me. Help me."

"I am," is the reply.

Hoyes radios to the tower that they have an emergency.

"I don't know what's wrong, Dennis. I see the airport..." Serra says.

"Holding it..." Serra says. "... I'm pulling," Hoyes says. The tape ends five seconds later.

A National Transportation Safety Board panel is working to determine why the Cessna crashed into Lake Michigan minutes after taking off. The crash killed all six aboard, including four University of Michigan employees who had just procured organs to bring back to Ann Arbor, Mich., for transplant.

An interim NTSB report released in July did not indicate a cause for the crash.

"There's a lot of things still in the works on this," lead investigator John Brannen told the Free Press. "We have some more to do, particularly the performance" of the plane.

The university terminated its contract with Marlin Air after the crash. The flight services company is suing the school for more than $1 million, contending it is not to blame for the accident.

Marlin Air attorney Scott Erskine cautioned against drawing conclusions from bits and pieces of investigative reports.

"Based on our review of the records we do not believe the NTSB has found any wrongdoing on the part of Mr. Serra," he said.

Besides Hoyes and Serra, the victims were cardiac surgeon Martinus Spoor; David Ashburn, a physician-in-training in pediatric cardiothoracic surgery; and transplant specialists Richard Chenault II and Richard LaPensee.

The Michigan patient who was awaiting a double-lung transplant operation received a second set of donor lungs two days later.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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