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Prominent activist, atheist Robert Sherman ID'd as Marengo plane crash victim

Poplar Grove man had built plane that crashed in field

FILE - In this May 25, 2012 file photo, atheist Rob Sherman addresses the Friends of the Cross board in Alto Pass, Ill. Suburban Chicago authorities say Sherman who described himself as "the best known atheist-activist in the Midwest" has died in a small plane crash. The McHenry County coroner's office on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016 said 63-year-old Robert I. Sherman of Poplar Grove died in the crash. Sherman was an outspoken atheist known across Illinois for going to court to challenge religious displays in public spaces or using state money for religious purposes. (Chuck Novara/The Southern Illinoisan via AP, File)
FILE - In this May 25, 2012 file photo, atheist Rob Sherman addresses the Friends of the Cross board in Alto Pass, Ill. Suburban Chicago authorities say Sherman who described himself as "the best known atheist-activist in the Midwest" has died in a small plane crash. The McHenry County coroner's office on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016 said 63-year-old Robert I. Sherman of Poplar Grove died in the crash. Sherman was an outspoken atheist known across Illinois for going to court to challenge religious displays in public spaces or using state money for religious purposes. (Chuck Novara/The Southern Illinoisan via AP, File)

MARENGO – Prominent activist and atheist Robert I. Sherman was identified by the McHenry County Coroner’s Office as the man killed in a single-engine plane crash in Marengo during the weekend. 

Sherman, 63, of Poplar Grove, was identified Monday after a forensic dental examination, according to a news release from the McHenry County coroner. The autopsy revealed Sherman died from multiple crush injuries because of the airplane crash.

The home-built plane, owned by Sherman, crashed sometime Friday night or early Saturday in a field off Meyer Road just north of Pleasant Grove Road in Marengo. Marengo first responders arrived at the site about 7:30 a.m. Saturday after a passer-by called 911 reporting the downed plane. 

The National Transportation Safety Board examined the wreckage at the crash site Saturday and removed the aircraft to a nearby hangar for further investigations, NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said. They were back out Monday investigating. 

A preliminary report could be released at the end of this week or early next week, Holloway said. Investigators will look into the pilot’s medical records, maintenance records and the order of events that led up to the crash, he said. 

Sherman was a Green Party candidate for Illinois’ 5th Congressional District in the fall and had announced plans to run for the 12th Congressional District in 2018. He was well-known for taking on battles in the Chicago area, where he believed separation of church and state issues existed, and also was a radio host.

Sherman operated a builder assist center, called Rob Sherman Airplanes, at Poplar Grove Airport, according to the business’s website.

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