Officials blocked off Oak Hill Road in Litchfield on Wednesday as emergency crews and the Maine DEP responded to the site of a plane crash that killed two people. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — Officials have identified the two people killed in Tuesday’s airplane crash in Litchfield.

The instructor pilot was James Shepard-Kegl, 69, of North Yarmouth, and the student was a commercial pilot Jumaane Omari Stanley Melville, 37, of St. Petersburg, Florida, the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday.

The plane, a Beechcraft C-99 owned by Wiggins Airways, was on a training flight when it crashed at 5:41 p.m. into Danforth Hill near the Wales town line. It had taken off from the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport a little more than a half-hour earlier, circling southwest over Sebago Lake before continuing northeast and making a loop in southwestern Kennebec County.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board arrived in Maine on Wednesday and are expected to be at the crash scene through Friday as the wreckage is removed and transferred to a salvage facility in Massachusetts. That marks the start of an investigation that could take 12 to 18 months to complete.

The plane had been severely fragmented, indicating a “high-energy impact, ” NTSB investigator Ralph Hicks said during a news briefing Wednesday.

Shepard-Kegl held certificates as both an airline transport pilot and a flight instructor for single and multiengine airplanes, with an instrument rating reflecting training on navigating in low visibility and at night. He had also been the co-director of Nicaraguan Sign Language Projects Inc., a nonprofit organization that among other things conducts deaf empowerment projects in Nicaragua. He was licensed to practice law in Maine and was admitted to the state’s bar in 1999.


The twin-engine Beechcraft C-99 turboprop that crashed Tuesday in Litchfield is seen in April 2023 at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in New Hampshire. Two pilots were killed. The plane was operated by Wiggins Airways, a cargo air carrier. Courtesy of Alex H/MHTPlanes

Melville, a commercial pilot, had served as a first officer for Marianas Southern Airlines staring in July 2022, according to his profile on LinkedIn. The airline went out of business on April 1. He earned a Master of Aeronautical Science degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s worldwide campus in 2017, school officials said. Melville was certified as a commercial pilot for single and multiengine planes, with an instrument rating, since at least 2021.

People who were in the area of Danforth Hill reported hearing a bang late Tuesday afternoon, including residents of Oak Hill Road and people at the Meadows Golf Course.

Kennebec County Deputy Elijah Curtis found the debris on Oak Hill Road, and local fire departments, including those from Litchfield, Monmouth and Wales as well as Gardiner Ambulance responded to the scene Tuesday night, closing off the road to preserve the scene for federal inspectors. State environmental officials were also on site to assess the spilled aviation fuel and to put in place a plan to clean up the site.

A spokesperson for the state DEP did not respond Thursday to inquiries about whether the spillage of up to 200 gallons of jet fuel poses public health risks to residents or officials working the scene. Deputy Commissioner David Madore said Wednesday the fuel is volatilizing and had been causing respiratory concerns.

Wiggins Airways, based in Manchester, New Hampshire, has been in operation for nearly a century, according to its website. As a freight carrier across the northeast United States it flies to points across New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office had initially identified the pilot as James Shepherd-Kegel and the student as Jumaane Omar Stanley Melville.

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.