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Pilot killed in Taylorville crash praised as hero

TAYLORVILLE, Ill. — The pilot who died in a central Illinois crash over the weekend is being praised for guiding the plane away from homes as it came down.

The crash happened around noon Saturday near homes in Taylorville, just moments after a group of skydivers jumped from the plane.

Roger Smith manages a small airport in Macomb, and he says he knew pilot Brandon Sparrow of Augusta for 15 years.

Smith tells The (Springfield) State Journal-Register that he wasn't surprised when he learned Sparrow stayed with the crashing airplane to ensure it didn't hit any houses, instead of using his own parachute.

Mayor Greg Brotherton says the yard where the plane landed wasn't even 75 feet wide and others could have been hurt if the plane had plowed into a home.

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