Local News

2 die in Greene County plane crash

Posted May 8, 2008 2:58 p.m. EDT
Updated May 8, 2008 8:02 p.m. EDT

— Two people were killed Thursday afternoon when a small plane crashed in a farm field near LaGrange, authorities said.

The crash occurred at about 1:30 p.m. off Hood Swamp Road near Oakdale Drive in the crossroads community of Shine in western Greene County, authorities said.

Sheriff Lemmie Smith said the four-seater plane issued a distress call to the Federal Aviation Administration before it disappeared from the radar at about 1:15 p.m.

James Williams and Julio Herrera were working in a neighboring field on Triple S Farms when they saw the plane go down.

"We heard a boom ... and I saw the tail end of the plane when it hit," Williams said. "We jumped down and started running over there."

Williams said they could see a man's face in the window of the plane, but the aircraft exploded into a fireball before they could rescue him.

"We were trying to save him but couldn't get to him," he said. "By the time we got kind of close to the plane, it burst into flames."

The Shine Fire Department responded to the crash scene within minutes to put out the fire.

The plane crashed about 200 yards from a line of homes, but no one on the ground was injured.

The wreckage was so thoroughly burned that authorities haven't been able to identify the plane, its occupants or its flight path, authorities said.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA were en route to Greene County Thursday evening to begin trying to determine what might have caused the crash.

A piece of one of the plane's wings was found more than a mile away, authorities said.

The wingtip bounced off the roof of Cedar Grove Assisted Living Center and landed on the patio behind the facility, authorities said. Electrical wires from the wing still dangled off the roof Thursday evening.

"We were very, very blessed that there weren't any residents or anybody outside," said David Wiley, a staff member at the center.