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Fatal Plane Crash Victim in Marengo Identified as Robert Sherman

Mon December 12 2016 5:03 pm
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McHenry County authorities confirmed Monday that Robert I. Sherman, formerly of Buffalo Grove, Illinois was the fatal plane crash victim discovered in a farm field in Marengo Saturday morning December 10, 2016. The controversial atheist, activist, political candidate, aviator, husband and father of two children was identified by dental records.

He was the pilot and the only person on board the aircraft.

Marengo firefighter/paramedics responded about 7:29 a.m. Saturday December 10, 2016 to a report of an aircraft accident in a farm field just south of 6105 Meyer Rd Marengo,IL

Marengo firefighters found one male crash victim, who was pronounced dead at the scene at 7:53 a.m. Saturday.

The single-engine plane belonged to Rob Sherman, according to Federal Aviation Administration the aircraft record for the aircraft N4218 crashed at the scene. The pilot’s name was not immediately released. The aircraft is listed as not fractionally owned.

The light sport aircraft that crashed was a Zenair CH601XL SLSA — a fixed wing single-engine airplane. The cause of the crash and the exact time of the crash is not known.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators were planning to transport the plane wreckage to a secure facility before forecasted heavy snow arrived Saturday evening.

Sherman, age 63, was a long-time resident of Buffalo Grove east of Arlington Heights Road in the Buffalo Grove neighborhood just east of Arlington Heights Fire Station 4. He recently moved to Poplar Grove, west of McHenry County with his wife, Celeste. The couple moved into a house that also had an airplane hangar on the property.

Sherman was setting up an airplane construction business, “Robert Sherman Airplanes.” His website stated, “Rob Sherman Airplanes helps you build your own airplane by providing you with a place to build your Zenith kit airplane, the tools to build it, the knowledge and expertise on what to do and counseling on what to buy, all at a surprisingly low cost.”

Sherman was offering his “builder facilities, tools, advice and help in building” customer airplanes for “a modest fee.” The total cost for a customer’s new Zenith Kit Airplane from Rob Sherman Airplanes was estimated at about $70,000, depending on how much of the work building the customer would do on their own.

In the political arena, Sherman unsuccessfully ran as a Green Party candidate for Congress in the Fifth District in the Fall 2016 election. He was planning to run again in 2018 for the 12th District seat in Southern Illinois.

Sherman gained notoriety in the 1980s while bringing lawsuits to suburbs that displayed religious symbols such as the Christian cross on local government property, water towers, city logos, signs, or vehicles.

Celebration of the opening of the Nativity Scene at North School Park in Arlington Heights in December 2012. Rob Sherman speaks at elapsed time 10:44 a.m.

In December 2012 Rob Sherman was present for the opening of a Nativity Scene at North School Park in Arlington Heights and said celebrated the proper negotiations with the government for the religious and secular agreement leading to the first setup of the free speech area and display at North School Park. Sherman complimented the proper recognition of the First Amendment, and the example set in Arlington Heights that Christians and atheists can be friends despite “theological differences.” Sherman complimented the display with its proper notice by the Arlington Heights Park District and the separation of the religious display from the secular displays at the park. Initially the Nativity Scene was not permitted to be displayed at North School park out of concerns of lawsuit from atheist groups. The Arlington Heights Park District stated the nativity display was inconsistent with their practice of using only their own decorations — a toy-themed display. Also a permit was not requested.

On behalf of Jim Finnegan, chairman of the Illinois Nativity Scene Committee and former Arlington Heights resident who requested the Nativity Scene, the Thomas More Society (described as a national public interest law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty) submitted a formal letter of complaint to the Arlington Heights Park District, saying their right to display a Nativity Scene is protected under the First Amendment.

The Arlington Heights Park District consulted attorneys, and the permit for the nativity scene was immediately approved.

The McHenry County Coroner’s office scheduled an autopsy Monday morning.

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Rob Sherman atheist at nativity scene.
Rob Sherman in rust-colored jacket (left) and Rev. Bill Zavaski, then pastor of Saint James Catholic Church.

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