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Pilot Ensures Skydivers Jump Before Crash

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A young Illinois skydive-plane pilot who died Saturday in a crash in Taylorville, Ill., is being hailed as a hero after he ensured his load of 12 jumpers got out safely before he tried unsuccessfully to save himself. Brandon Sparrow, 30, of Augusta, Ill., has been identified as the pilot. Circumstances of the crash are still sketchy but there have been unconfirmed reports that there was no post-crash fire or explosion after the Beech 18 crashed in the back yard of a home.

Authorities said debris from the crash was spread over two to three blocks of a residential neighborhood. They don't know whether it was luck or the pilot's final efforts that kept the big twin from hitting any houses. No one on the ground was hurt. Sparrow was married with no children.

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