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4 Dead, Young Girl Injured in Beaver Island, Michigan Plane Crash

twin engine plane

On November 13, 2021, a twin-engine Britten-Norman BN-2A charter plane operated by Island Airways crashed on its way to Beaver Island, Michigan. An 11-year-old girl is the lone survivor of the Lake Michigan plane crash that claimed the lives of the girl’s father and three others.

Passengers Mike Perdue of Gaylord, Michigan, Kate Leese of Beaver Island, Michigan, and Adam Kendall, also of Beaver Island, died in the small plane crash, along with the pilot, William Julian.

Mike Perdue’s 11-year-old daughter was the crash’s lone survivor. Laney Perdue sustained broken bones and other injuries. Emergency responders transported her to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids where she remained in the days after the fatal plane crash on Beaver Island.

Christie Perdue, Laney’s mother, told CNN that she believes her husband may have saved their daughter by holding her tight and bracing before the crash impact. While Laney’s memory of the crash was a bit hazy in the hospital, her mother said one thing she does recall is her dad hugging her.

"One of the last things she remembers is just being hugged really tight by dad, and Mike, if you knew him, gave the best, big bear hugs," Christie Perdue said. "In my heart of hearts, I know that he truly did save her, and he protected her," she added.

What Caused the Beaver Island Crash?

Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will investigate the cause of this tragic crash. Aviation accident investigations generally take between 12 and 18 months to complete. At that point, NTSB will issue a final report, which will detail the cause (or causes) and offer any applicable safety recommendations to deter this type of incident from happening again.

In the early stages of the investigation, we do know that the pilot, William Julian, radioed in to air traffic controllers 10 miles out from landing and nothing he said gave any hint of trouble; the transmission was ordinary. Something went wrong between that last radio call and the crash.

Ronald L. M. Goldman, a veteran trial lawyer with decades of experience in aviation law, says investigators will scour through the wreckage to look for any anomalies that could point to mechanical failure. They will also analyze the maintenance records for the downed plane to ensure the aircraft was properly maintained, and review the actions of the pilot before the plane went down.

Island Airways

Island Airways (McPhillips Flying Service) owned and operated the downed Britton Norman airplane. The company operates charter flights based out of the Charlevoix airport, located in the northwestern Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Island Airways has been in operation for more than 70 years.

Per the NTSB database, Island Airways only has one previous aviation incident in 1976 (no fatalities).

Beaver Island Plane Crash Deceased Victims

Mike Perdue

Michael “Mike” Perdue was a 43-year-old real estate agent with Smith Realty Group in Gaylord, Michigan. He grew up in Northern Michigan and was a fixture in his community, serving on the St. Mary Athletic Board, the Otsego County Economic Alliance, and was vice president of Gaylord Little League. He is survived by his wife Christie and the couple’s four children.

Kate Leese and Adam Kendall

Kate Leese, 35, and Adam Kendall, 37, had just recently moved to Beaver Island to start their own vineyard after spending a few years traveling in a renovated Airstream trailer and working remotely. According to locals on the island, the couple had already made an impression on the community of 600 residents. Their dream was to open Antho Vineyards, a winery and tasting room. Leese previously worked as a biochemist and Kendall was an attorney.

William Julian

William “Bill” Julian, 55, worked as a pilot for Island Airways. He was an avid pilot and well-known in the northern Michigan aviation community. Julian was also an educator who spent 16 years working as a history teacher for the Traverse City school district. He is survived by his wife, Katherine McKenzie, and their daughter.

Aviation Attorney for Commuter Plane Crash

Aviation accident attorneys from the national law firm of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman have an established successful track record litigating commuter and small plane crash cases. Since the 1980s, our firm has won cases for clients in charter plane crashes as well as general aviation accidents, securing justice and compensation for the victims and their families. Across all practice areas, our seasoned attorneys have won more than $4 billion in verdicts and settlements.

We understand the complexities of litigating against any aviation defendant, from regional charter airlines like Air Midwest, to major manufacturers like Boeing and others. If you are interested in learning more about vindicating your legal rights after a small plane crash, contact our experienced legal team or give us a call at (855) 948-5098


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