Local News

Authorities Try To Determine Cause Of Lee County Plane Crash

Posted December 18, 2003 7:29 a.m. EST

— The pilot of a single-engine plane was killed Wednesday after the aircraft crashed just after takeoff from the

Sanford-Lee County Regional Airport

. The plane was headed to Kill Devil Hills for the Centennial of Flight celebration.

The pilot, Jaime Beingolea, and four passengers -- Amanda Walls, Monica Wolak, Robert Pajor and Mary Rollins -- were on board the Cessna 206 when it went down near Rod Sullivan Road, less than a mile from the airport, just after 5 a.m.

Three passengers were injured. Pajor, who was treated and released from the hospital after getting a bump on the head, was able to walk away from the plane.

"He called me around 5:30 and told me that there had been a plane crash, but he was OK," said Jackie Pajor, Robert's wife.

Rollins, who received six stitches, was also able to walk away from the plane. Walls is listed in good condition at Central Carolina Hospital. Wolak is listed in fair condition at WakeMed.

Capt. James Estes of the Lee County Sheriff's Office said the plane was about three-quarters of a mile from the end of the runway when it banked and crashed.

"One of the survivors advised he could still see the big, bright rotating lights from the crash site after he got out," he said. "One of the witnesses said he heard a couple of clunking noises and the plane went down into a heavily wooded area."

Officials sid three of the passengers were employees at the Parker-Zenith Products -- Hydraulic Division. Beingolea had worked at the Sanford office building in the past, but he had just been promoted to another facility.

Authorities said Beingolea was an experienced pilot. Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board do not know what caused the plane to go down, but they said the wings were pulled to the back and the fuselage was pulled out. They are not ruling out that weather may have been a factor.


Kamal Wallace