WALTERBORO, S.C. (AP) — Federal investigators have released a preliminary report on a plane crash that killed its sole passenger and seriously injured the pilot last month in South Carolina.
The National Transportation Safety Board reported Wednesday that the small plane was headed Oct. 22 to Miami from Fredericksburg, Virginia when the pilot attempted to stop for fuel at an airport in Walterboro, South Carolina. The pilot then declared an emergency due to a “lagging engine.”
Thursday’s federal report notes the plane then hit a 70-foot (21.34-meter) tall pine tree before crashing through a forested area that tore off its wings and right stabilator. The plane's fuselage then caught on fire.
Witnesses said they heard an engine sound like that of an ATV as the airplane turned left toward an open field. The sound ceased after a loud “pop” from the airplane, according to the report.
The pilot, a commander with the Pennsylvania Air National Guard named Deane Thomey, was in intensive care following the accident, according to an Air Force news release. His 24-year-old daughter, Madeline Thomey, died in the crash.