Local News

Authorities Identify Victims In Edgecombe County Plane Crash

Posted June 9, 2003 2:53 a.m. EDT

— Heavy security surrounds the site of a plane crash east of Rocky Mount as local investigators wait for members of the


and the

National Transportation Safety Board

to assist in the investigation.

A small plane crashed Sunday around 1:40 p.m. killing the three people and a dog on board. The crash happened east of Rocky Mount in a field beside Phillips Magnet School, approximately 50 feet from Battleboro-Leggett Road.

According to the Edgecombe County Sheriff's Office, the plane was a four-seat Piper PA-44 Seminole.

Sheriff James Knight identifed the victims as Joshua Burgess, 24, of LaHabra, Calif; Irene Anderson, 46, of Mooresville, N.C. and Elizabeth Kernes, 26, of St. Albans, W. Va. Knight said the dog belonged to Anderson.

Burgess would have been 25 Tuesday.

There were no reports of injuries on the ground.

The plane was registered to Airline Transport Pilots and had "ATP" on the tail section. ATP is based in Jacksonville Fla., but has an office at Raleigh-Durham International.

According to the

ATP Web site,

the Airline Transport Pilot certificate is the highest grade certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration. To be eligible for an Airline Transport Pilot certificate, a person must know English and be at least 23 years of age.

The experience required for an airplane ATP certificate includes at least 1,500 hours of total time as a pilot, 500 hours of cross-country flight time, 100 hours of night time or 75 hours plus 45 full-stop landings at night.

Officials at the scene said the bodies were taken to the medical examiner's office at Nash General Hospital.

It is not yet known where the flight originated or where it was headed. The nearest landing strip was in Tarboro, about 10 miles away from the crash site.

Resident Curtis Avent saw the plane go down and called 911. He said it appeared the plane's motor had shut off.

"All of a sudden it started spinning around and around in the air and crashed up under the trees," he said.

Janella Johnson, 15, lives just a few hundred feet from the crash site. Several people gathered outside Johnson's home to view the wreckage and police activity.

"We heard a big bang," Johnson told The Rocky Mount Telegram. "It kind of vibrated the house."

Another local resident, Gilbert Pope, said the crash gave the neighborhood a scare.

"You think of tragedies happening away from the house," Pope said. "This was a mile from my home."


Brian Bowman