Local News

FAA Releases Names Of Three People Killed In Plane Crash Near RDU International

Posted December 14, 2001

— Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration have released the names of the three people who died in a plane crash near RDU International Wednesday night.

Tom Motley and Randy Mathis, both of Dothan, Alabama, and

Shane Dease

of Eufuala, Alabama, died when their plane reportedly missed its approach to

Raleigh-Durham International Airport

just after 7 p.m. Wednesday, crashing near Ebenezer Church Road in Raleigh's Umstead Forest subdivision.

Officials at Dothan, Ala. Regional Airport where the flight originated, told WRAL that the passengers were employed by


, an Internet services company based in Dothan.

The airport officials said that the plane was owned by Motley, a criminal defense lawyer in Dothan. He is believed to have flown the plane.

Authorities said the men were en route to Raleigh to see a client.

The Piper Malibu -- a small, single-engine aircraft -- was headed to RDU when it crashed into a house about one mile east of the airport.

Donald S. Long Sr., 70,

was in his house

on Stone Horse Circle when the plane hit it, and he escaped with minor burns. His dog also escaped.

What concerns you most about air travel? Accidental crashes Terrorist incidents I'm not concerned about air travel, I feel it's safe.

"I was standing in the kitchen and everything just blew up. I thought a bomb had gone off," Long said.

Long's house was completely destroyed, as was a nearby vehicle. Some of the surrounding homes sustained minor damage, according to Wake County Sheriff's Dept. Captain Ken Dodd.

There is no word yet on what caused the crash. However, the crash occurred during a foggy period with limited visibility.

Authorities said the aircraft may have dropped almost straight down from the sky, rather than falling at an angle.

"In the area of the house, I don't see a swath of broken trees, and I have to look into that," said Alan J. Yurman, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board's office in Miami. "If it was a more level flight, I'd expect to see trees broken in a path. I don't see that."

Yurman said the plane initially stayed above 2,000 feet altitude, then suddenly fell to 1,400 feet before climbing to 1,600 feet. Then it suddenly disappeared from the radar, which sweeps that area every four seconds.

Neighbors were clearly frightened by the incident.

Members of the Ebenezer Church were having their Wednesday night service when the church began to shake. They said they thought it was an earthquake.

"All I know is I could smell smoke," said neighborhood resident Stacy Coats. "Up in the air was all black outside. I heard sirens all over the place."

"We first heard a buzzing sound right overhead. Right after that you heard a loud boom and then the whole house just kind of shook. Living close to the airport you kind of wonder, so we went out and looked around and in just a minute you could see an orange glow in the sky," said Gerald Townsend, who walked down to the crash scene just moments after the plane hit.

"There was one house that looked like it must have taken almost a direct hit," he said. "It was on fire and as I watched for a minute, it crumbled to the ground."

A section of Ebenezer Church Road and Umstead Forest Drive remained closed Thursday morning. Wake County Sheriff's deputies, Raleigh police officers and firefighters cordoned off the area and walked the grounds looking for wreckage.

The incident happened one day before the seventh anniversary of another deadly plane crash near RDU. On Dec. 13, 1994, American Eagle flight 3379 was en route from Greensboro to Raleigh when it went down in Morrisville. Investigators determined that crash was caused by pilot error. Fifteen people died and three survived.


Michelle Singer


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