UMaine student killed in plane crash lived at Spear Farm in Nobleboro

Farm owner calls it a tragic loss
By Daniel Dunkle | Nov 18, 2012
Courtesy of: Janet Spear Marcelo Rugini, 24, an exchange student living in Nobleboro, was one of three killed in the plane crash Friday, Nov. 16.

Nobleboro — Bob Spear, his family and employees at his farm are mourning the loss of the exchange student who lived with them for six years and was killed Nov. 16 in a plane crash at Knox County Regional Airport in Owls Head.

Marcelo Rugini, 24, was one of three killed in the plane crash Friday. Originally from Muliterno, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, he came to the farm as an exchange student and gained a full scholarship to the University of Maine in Orono, where he was studying economics.

"Here he was, an innocent passenger in the plane who did nothing wrong himself," Spear said Nov. 18. "It's tragic to see a life wasted when he had so much potential."

Spear said Rugini was the most likable boy you would ever meet.

Rugini was a passenger in a Cessna 172 that left from Bangor International Airport Nov. 16.

Also on board, and killed in the crash, were David Cheney, 22, of Beverly, Mass., a business major and president of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and William “B.J.” Hannigan III, 24, of South Portland, who graduated from UMaine in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering.

Rugini had sent people at the Spear farm a text message that he would be flying over and the plane circled the farm at about 4 p.m. Nov. 16.

Spear said he heard on the 6 p.m. news that there had been a crash at the airport in Owls Head just before 5 p.m. He said that at the time they didn't know if the UMaine students had planned to land at the Owls Head airport. Lucas Bernardi of Brazil, who also lives and works at the farm, started calling Rugini's cell phone, but got no answer. He then called close friends at UMaine who said the three had not come back.

Spear said he got the call confirming that Rugini had been in the crash at about midnight.

Rugini had started at the university with the idea of taking his education back home with him, but had told Spear recently that he planned to stay and work for him. "He was in our plans for the future," Spear said. The farm owner said Rugini's skills would be a real asset to the working farm.

Rugini, who would have graduated in May, was earning very high grades and had earned a four-year scholarship. Spear said he was a hard-worker and talented.

Members of the Spear family have been in contact with Rugini's family in Brazil, which is challenging in terms of communication because they do not speak English. Family members had been planning to come from Brazil to Maine for Rugini's graduation.

Spear said Rugini's body will be sent home to Brazil.

The Cessna 172 that Rugini was in was taking off from the Owls Head airport when it struck a pickup truck driving across the runway. The plane crashed into a wooded area at approximately 5 p.m. Friday.

Courier Publications News Editor Daniel Dunkle can be reached at 594-4401 or by email at

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