A 26-year-old Bristol resident died Sunday afternoon when the crop duster he was piloting crashed east of Mishawaka.

Russel Stroup had been flying for Agriflite Services, Wakarusa, for just a month. He was hired by the company in January and completed his training this spring.

“Russel loved aviation and wanted to fly since he was a kid,” David Eby, owner of Agriflite Services said. “I don’t know how many times he told me he really appreciated this opportunity.”

The fatal accident occurred near the intersection of Dragoon Trail and Cedar Road, just east of Mishawaka.

Eby said that he had spoken by radio to Stroup about 10 minutes prior to the crash and Stroup indicated that everything was going fine.

Eby said the crash occurred when Stroup’s plane hit some trees while he was flying up out of the field.

“We will investigate the engine and get electronic information off the airplane to see what was going on,” Eby said.

In 33 years, this was the only fatality the company has had, he said.

Eby said Stroup attended Purdue University, where he took the college’s four-year aviation technician course. The course qualified him to do the maintenance on the aircraft, Eby said.

Stroup then worked to accumulate enough hours to do agricultural aviation, he said.

“He was a good, cautious pilot. He was a good person. It was kind of a shock for everyone,” Eby said.

Stroup’s decision to go into agricultural aviation was likely not a surprise to those who knew him. Agriculture had been a part of his life since he was born.

He and his family were awarded the “Farm Family of the Year” award last August by the Elkhart County Agricultural Society. In addition, he was a 10-year 4-H member.

His parents are Penny and Marty Stroup.

Respond: (574) 533-2151, ext. 313


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