Local News

Divers Find Missing Ultralight, Body of Passenger In Cape Fear River

Posted December 30, 2002

— Divers found the wreckage of an ultralight flying machine and the body of a passenger in the Cape Fear River on Saturday, concluding the search for a 26-year-old N.C. State graduate who left Friday with his uncle on what was supposed to be a one-hour ride above Fuquay-Varina.

The pilot of the ultralight was 50-year-old Jey Barbour of Raleigh. He was airlifted to Duke Hospital for treatment of possible hypothermia after spending the night in the water and 21-degree temperature.

Released from Duke after a few hours, Barbour apparently had been able to escape the small lightweight aircraft before it sank in the river Friday night.

The body of the passenger, Barbour's 26-year-old nephew, Anthony, was found in the wreckage in the water around noon Saturday.

Anthony Barbour, who attended Clayton High School, was visiting with his uncle for the holidays. He had been scheduled to fly back with his wife to his seminary school in Stockton, Calif., on Saturday.

After freeing himself, Jey Barbour dove into the river repeatedly Friday night looking for his nephew. He got himself to a home about a mile away from the crash site Saturday morning and got the resident to call 911.

Close to 100 rescue workers searched for nearly six hours Saturday before finding the plane. Anthony Barbour - who reportedly did not know how to swim - was still strapped in his seat.

The aircraft that crashed was a type of ultralight known as a Trike.

The state Wildlife Resources Commission is investigating the crash since the craft landed in the water, a wildlife enforcement officer said. Jey Barbour reportedly told rescuers that the motor failed.

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison and his office began a search for the two men late Friday night. Highway Patrol helicopters were sent to look for the Trike, which eyewitness reports placed over Chatham County around 5 p.m. Friday.

Authorities say the crash occurred around 5 p.m. Friday. The two men were reported missing at 9 p.m.

The Barbours took off from the Triple W Airport near Fuquay-Varina about 4 p.m. The two were supposed to return at 5 p.m.

The crash site, near Highway 42 at the Lee and Chatham County line, was found Saturday morning.

The Trike crashed in water deep enough for it to sink.

Jey Barbour walked more than a mile through woods to find a house and get help Saturday morning. He was alert but having trouble walking and breathing, which is why he was taken to Duke to be treated for possible hypothermia.

Jey Barbour is reported to be an experienced pilot and diver, and he's a member of the Kennebec Flying Club. He's also reported to be an ultralight instructor.

A Trike is a two-seat aircraft that has a top speed of 100 miles per hour.

There are strict operating limitations for ultralights, but no mandatory license or registration.

Among the regulations for operating ultralights are no flying over towns or settlements, no flying at night or above the clouds, no flying in airspace around airports with control towers and certain other airspace without prior permission.

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