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Loved ones remember Punta Gorda men killed in plane crash

Posted at 9:24 PM, Oct 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-18 22:29:35-04

Loved ones of the Punta Gorda men killed in a plane crash in Ohio are trying to come to grips with what happened.

Eric Hackney, 43, and Jesse Loy, 36, were flying to visit friends when their plane crashed in a wooded area. Investigators said the weather in the area was nice at the time, and witnesses saw smoke coming from the low flying plane before it crashed.

"He loved to fly. That's where he loved to be. He loved to be up in the air. He did not like his feet on the ground," Loy's high school friend Christine Schnepp said. "Still trying to kind of figure out what happened because he was good at what he did. It's kind of shocking, because he was good at it."

Schnepp never got to take a ride with Loy, but Andrew Merriman got to fly with Hackney.

"We flew all around Charlotte Harbor. Flew over my neighborhood. It was pretty neat. Just seeing how much he enjoyed it, he was really in his element when he was up in the air," Merriman said.

Merriman said hearing about the crash, and the death of his good friend, doesn't seem real.

"I'm not accepting it. It feels like just the other day, I was the phone with him, we were takling about making a trip going out fishing," Merriman said.

He leaves behind kids and a fiance, who are devastated.

Hackney is described as the life of the party and always laughing, while Loy was shy and sweet. Their friendship was solidified by their love of aviation.

"He left in what he loved. Couldn't ask for anything better than that. Everybody said he's flying high," Merriman said.

Investigators said it could take several months to determine the cause of the crash.