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January 13, 2014

Community saddened by loss of pair killed in plane crash

By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer

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Community saddened by loss of pair killed in plane crash
Birmingham residents Christopher Neumann, left, and his partner, Todd Lloyd, are remembered by friends and family as witty, light-hearted guys who loved to travel and spend time with loved ones.

BIRMINGHAM — According to police, it may never be known what caused the tragic plane crash that killed two Birmingham men just outside of Boyne City last week.

But what we do know now is how much Todd Lloyd and his partner, Christopher Neumann, will be missed by the local community and beyond.

Lloyd, 51, and Neumann, 38, died Jan. 6 after a plane that Lloyd, a licensed pilot, was thought to have been flying went down in northern Michigan. 

According to Charlevoix County Sheriff W. D. Schneider, police were alerted to the crash at around 7 a.m. that day when witnesses called in to report seeing the plane go down and a ball of flames on the ground. The Mooney M20R aircraft went down in a wooded area in Melrose Township, just a little more than a mile from the Boyne City Airport.

Despite the frigid temperatures that blew through the state during the early part of last week, Schneider said it’s unknown what caused the plane to go down.

“It will take six months to a year to make a determination, if they can make a determination,” Schneider said of the ongoing investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. “They’ve got to look at everything: log books, weather, history of mechanics. We wouldn’t even venture a guess — there are so many things that could’ve happened.”

Back in metro Detroit, the victims are being remembered as great neighbors and treasured friends to those who knew them. The pair, who resided on Ann Street in Birmingham, had been together for years. Lloyd was also well-known in Madison Heights, where he was president and owner of Chair Covers & Linens. Neumann was the vice president of public relations at Weber Shandwick.

Lloyd was well-known in the hospitality and event-planning industry because of his business. Following his death, the greater Detroit chapter of the National Association for Catering and Events posted a tribute to Lloyd, who at one time served as president of the organization.

“Undoubtedly, Todd Lloyd was one of the most inspiring, charismatic and integral people to ever change and shape the events industry,” the NACE post read. “Despite his incredible successes, Todd always remained humble: a great friend and leader to all who knew him.”

Neumann’s sister, Kelly Neumann, said that she had a hard time speaking about her brother immediately after the accident. But in the days that followed, she found the strength to share her memories of her brother and his partner, who were so loved by those who knew them.

“I’ve just been shocked by the outpour. I knew that they were really loved, but the phone calls, the emails, the texts, the Facebook posts. I never imagined,” said Kelly Neumann. “When we were kids, we would take jabs at each other and say, ‘You don’t have any friends,’ ‘No, you don’t have any friends.’ I just want to say to him now, ‘You beat me. That’s for sure.’”

Christopher Neumann’s sister, who lives in Boston, said the two were very close growing up and even as adults, traveling together and talking several times a week. He’d make bad situations better with his smirk and quick wit, she said, and that’s what she’s holding onto now.

“I think it’s really his charm, his love, his compassion and his sense of humor that’s really getting me through this,” she said.

Both gentlemen had remembrance services late last week.

Do you have a favorite memory of Todd Lloyd or Christopher Neumann? Share your thoughts by clicking the "add new comment" link below.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki at tesshaki@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1095.