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Investigators Look for Cause of Clayton Plane Crash

Investigators gathered wreckage Saturday from a plane that crashed into a Clayton restaurant. The pilot of a single-engine plane died Friday morning when the aircraft crashed into the restaurant.

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CLAYTON, N.C. — Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Administration were at McCall's BBQ and Seafood Restaurant in Clayton on Saturday.

The pilot of a single-engine plane died Friday morning when the aircraft crashed into the restaurant.

The wreckage was being recovered Saturday and will be transported to a secure location where the plane can be examined. Investigators are also looking into maintenance and pilot records.

"Here, in the building, the way it was, it's a little hard to discern the position of things," said Tim Monville, with the National Transportation Safety Board. "The wreckage will be recovered and taken to a secure location and then we're going to lay out the wreckage to try to determine if there are any failure or malfunctions of the flight controls, engine, or systems of the airplane."

Monville said it is still not known where the pilot was coming from when the plane slammed into the front of the popular restaurant, at 10365 U.S. Highway 70 West, shortly after 10 a.m. Friday.

The pilot's name hasn't been released yet. Monville said the pilot did not file a flight plan.

The Federal Aviation Administration registry lists the plane as a fixed-wing North American Navion built in 1947. It was registered to a man in Chantilly, Va.

The restaurant's parking lot was littered with debris, and the front wall of the building was knocked out. Pieces of wreckage also were found on Hobbs Street, which is the block behind the restaurant.

The cause of the accident wasn't known Saturday, but eyewitnesses said they thought the plane had engine trouble. Monville said the aircraft traveled more than 200 feet into the building and caught fire.

Ten McCall's employees were in the kitchen area, located in the back of the restaurant, at the time of the crash. One was taken to a nearby hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation, but there were no other injuries, authorities said.

Fifteen fire and rescue crews and 20 police units responded to the accident scene, and U.S. 70 remained closed for hours as emergency personnel investigated.

All lanes of the highway were reopened by mid-afternoon Friday, but traffic was heavy and moving slowly through the area for a few hours after that, authorities said.

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