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Antioch dad, daughter die in ‘shocking tragedy’ as plane crashes

Antioch Community High School principal John Whitehurst talks about freshman student Nicole Parfitt 14 who died plane crash with her

Antioch Community High School principal John Whitehurst talks about freshman student, Nicole Parfitt, 14, who died in a plane crash with her father, Todd Parfitt, 50, of Antioch in Burlington, Wisconsin on Sunday, November 18, 2012. | Thomas Delany Jr.~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 19, 2012 6:17PM

For many of 14-year-old Nicole Parfitt’s classmates at Antioch High School, Monday was a day to wear purple to honor their friend after she died in a plane crash with her father.

She was flying in a 1972 fixed-wing, single-engine AA-1B Grumman with her father, Todd, 50, of unincorporated Antioch on Sunday afternoon. He was attempting a landing just before 1:30 p.m., when the plane crashed in a cornfield just west of Burlington Municipal Airport, near the Walworth and Racine county line in Wisconsin.

“We are devastated and saddened beyond words over the loss of a loving and dedicated husband and father, Todd, and a beautiful and endearing 14-year-old girl who was loved by all who know her, Nicole,” said a family statement Monday from Robin Parfitt, wife of Todd and Nicole’s mother. “We ask for your prayers and that you respect our family’s need for privacy at this time of great sorrow.”

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were at the airport Monday trying to determine the cause of the crash.

Todd Parfitt’s aircraft was certified in August 2002 and family members said Monday that he flew often and was known for taking a day trip on a nice day or flying to lunch. He was a United Airlines dispatcher for 15 years and was an experienced flier. He was also a veteran who served in the Air Force, but not as a pilot.

Nicole had tweeted friends on a social media site Sunday with the message “Day with Dad” and a heart-shaped emoticon. She was a freshman at the high school and had made the dance team.

“She was a talented and dedicated dancer,” said Principal John Whitehurst. “She was easy to get along with and had a real sweet temperament. It’s a shocking tragedy for the whole school.

“Most of the kids already knew about her death. A lot of the kids wore purple today to honor Nicole,” because that is her class’ color, he said.

Her dance teammates were taken aside with coaches and a psychologist Monday to talk through the tragedy. A grief counselor also went to all her classes Monday in case anyone had any questions or wanted to talk.

To make the dance team freshman year was also a big accomplishment.

“As a freshman, that’s quite an honor to get on it,” said Whitehurst. “She was very talented.”

The dance team competes in competitions with three different dances and they also perform at halftime at high school football and basketball games.

Besides Robin Parfitt, the father and daughter are survived by son and brother, Bradley, 11, who attends middle school in Antioch.

“They may have not made it to the runway that they intended, but they did land safely in heaven,” read one of the posts on a Facebook tribute page called R.I.P. Nicole Parfitt. The page had 2,449 “Likes” as of Monday afternoon. There is also a You Tube tribute in her name.

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