911 callers hear plane sputtering, explosion

Small plane, bodies of 2 on board pulled from creek Wednesday

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – Sputtering engine sounds followed by an explosion in a remote marsh near Brunswick is how 911 callers described Monday's fatal plane crash.

The small Piper PA-44 Seminole was heading from Concord, N.C., to Jacksonville Executive at Craig Airport.

The plane was recovered Wednesday from a 12-foot-deep creek and is now at a secure location in Atlanta as the National Transportation Safety Board continues its investigation. The bodies of its two occupants were also found in the seats of the plane with their seat belts on.

"I heard it, sounded like it was backfiring. It almost sounded like an explosion," one 911 caller said.

LISTEN: 911 callers hear plane, engine trouble
IMAGES: Search, recovery of downed plane

Four people who live near the crash site dialed the emergency number reporting the same frightening sound: a small plane struggling to stay in the air over a creek only accessible by boat.

Callers seemed frustrated that they couldn't pinpoint the plane's exact location.

Crews had been searching for the plane since the plane dropped off radar late Monday afternoon and was seen falling from the sky.

"911, what's your emergency," a dispatcher asked one caller.

"That's a very good question," the caller said. "Unfortunately, I couldn't tell you specifically. We just heard a plane go down, what sounded like a plane going down in the Marshes of Mackay."

"I could hear the plane going up, and then all of a sudden the engine died, and then I could see it going down and I heard a thud, as it apparently hit somewhere," another caller said.

The 911 calls will be helpful to investigators who are trying to determine if those were the sounds of the pilot trying to regain control of his aircraft. Eyewitnesses said the plane looked like it was flying erratically, which may also explain why the pilot was unable to contact the tower to report his exact location.

"I think I might have heard a small plane in trouble over here, just over here," one caller said.

"I think it was north of me, but I'm not certain because I could hear the impact," another caller said.