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Small plane crashes into Minnesota home, killing all three aboard

Two residents of the home in Hermantown were not injured, said a local official, who told NBC News the plane "just barely" missed them.
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A small plane crashed into a Minnesota home around midnight Saturday, killing all three people on board and narrowly sparing two residents of the home, who were uninjured, a local official told NBC News.

The Cessna 172 crashed into the second floor of the home in Hermantown, about 16 miles west of Duluth, before it landed in the backyard, according to information released by the city.

The deceased were identified Sunday as Alyssa Schmidt, 32, of St. Paul; her brother, Matthew Schmidt, 31, of Burnsville, a city just south of Minneapolis; and pilot Tyler Fretland, 32, also of Burnsville, according to a statement from Hermantown city officials.

Joe Wicklund, the communications director for Hermantown, told NBC News that the plane "just barely" missed the two residents of the home, who Wicklund said were on the second floor.

All three passengers on board a Cessna 172 airplane were killed when it hit the second floor of a house in Hermantown, Minn., near Duluth
All three passengers on board a Cessna 172 airplane were killed when it hit the second floor of a house in Hermantown, Minn., near DuluthKBJR

Video shows a hole in the middle of the front of the roof, debris scattered on the grass around the home and what appears to be at least half of the rear part of the house destroyed.

Officials staffing the control tower at Duluth International Airport notified Hermantown police just before midnight on Saturday that they believed a small airplane had crashed after it left their radar when it was a mile to a mile and a half south of the airport, the town said. Police and fire department officials found the wreckage.

The Duluth News Tribune reported that the homeowners, Jason and Crystal Hoffman, have lived there for seven years after having moved from Worthington, Minnesota, near the border of Iowa.

“I’m still not sure what to think," Jason Hoffman told the Tribune on Sunday morning. "It doesn’t seem real at all. We’re just lucky. The loss of life is heartbreaking. At the same time we’re grateful for making it through this."

Hoffman told the newspaper he remembered "waking up to a very loud explosion and my wife screaming."

"The first thing I thought was that the furnace exploded," he added.

After Hoffman stumbled through the dark to retrieve a flashlight, the newspaper reported, he saw an airplane wheel next to his bed and realized there had been a crash.

The couple found their cat unharmed in the basement, the News Tribune reported, and they eventually left the home when the dust became too much to bear, despite neighbors' warnings to stay inside, as there were live power lines around the home.

The Hoffmans could not immediately be reached for comment.

Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating, Wicklund said, adding that the cause of the crash has not yet been determined.