Local News

Two killed in Guilford County plane crash

Posted March 30, 2011 6:33 p.m. EDT
Updated March 31, 2011 9:47 a.m. EDT

— Two people died when a small plane crashed into a house in High Point Wednesday evening, federal officials said. 

A Beech BE 58 aircraft was traveling from Wilmington to Winston-Salem but was diverted to Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro due to weather, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said.

The plane crashed in the Frazier Downs subdivision about three miles from the airport shortly before 6 p.m. It clipped one house and crashed into another on Dairy Point Drive, igniting a fire which firefighters quickly got under control.

"I just heard a big boom, and fire just blazed out," said next-door neighbor Kay Yarborough. "I thought somebody had hit my back porch. I didn't know what it was."

The two people on the plane – the pilot and a passenger – were killed. Their names were not released. 

Everyone inside the house hit by the plane managed to escape, and no one was in the house clipped by the plane.

Carl Hall Jr. said he and his wife, Angie, saw a man bring two boys and a girl out of the front of the house, away from the garage where the plane hit.

"They weren't in that area," Carl Hall said. "That's probably what saved them."

Angie Hall said the children, who were upset, were taken to a neighbor's home.

Debris was tossed across the cul-de-sac, landing in neighbors' yards. Carl Hall, who lives about 150 feet from where the plane went down, said he saw an engine in the middle of the street and the fuselage of the plane sticking out of the back of a home.

"It was chaos over here," Angie Hall said. "Everybody's running and screaming, trying to make sure the neighbors are fine. I'm shaken up. A little scared. It really scared us a lot over here."

The crash shook the ground at the home of Pam Willoughby-Ray, who lives about a quarter-mile away from the scene.

"We heard it; it sounded like a sonic boom," she said. "We were eating dinner, and my mother said, 'What, did a plane engine fall on the house'?"

The National Transportation Safety Board will look at many factors, including weather, to determine the cause of the crash, Bergen said. The National Weather Service said heavy fog in the area reduced visibility to as low as a quarter of a mile.

Air traffic controllers knew they had a problem after trying to reach the plane with no response. 

“We’re stopping everybody. We’re not moving. I'm not hearing you right now. Do what you got to do, but we're not moving anybody until we find that airplane or they call us," the controller could be heard saying in a recording of traffic conversation obtained by WRAL News.

Charlotte-based Jet Logistics, which operated the plane, said it was working with the NTSB in the investigation of the crash. A statement from the company extended thoughts and prayers to "those affected by this tragedy."

On the day of the crash, the plane had been flown from Raleigh to Winston-Salem, then to Wilmington before setting off to Winston-Salem again, according to flight records.