Small plane, bodies found in Brunswick marsh

2 people were on small plane that crashed Monday night


BRUNSWICK, Ga. – Investigators have found the wreckage of a small plane that crashed Monday evening and the bodies of the two people who were on board.

Crews had been searching for the plane since the crash, focusing on a marshy area east of Brunswick, where the plane dropped off radar and was seen falling from the sky.

Shawn Etcher, air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, said crews recovered the plane about 12:45 p.m. Wednesday and raised the plane above the water and onto a barge.

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

The plane was found in a creek about 12 feet deep. The area is a marshy, wetlands area in Wallys Leg, near Grants Creek. It's only accessible by air and boat, investigators said.

Etcher said the bodies of the victims were found in their seats in the plane and with their seat belts on. He said the bodies will be identified by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

"Once we got to the scene, because of the current, the divers were having difficulty getting down to that. It was a hazard to raise that up, so we had to wait until the current slowed down," Etcher said. "We strapped it in multiple places and then slowly raised it above the water with a crane."

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

In four 911 calls released Thursday, none of the callers say they saw the plane go down, but they all heard what they described as some kind of engine trouble, and one said he saw the plane flying erratically. The first caller told the dispatcher she heard the impact.

Divers found an object Tuesday by sonar and confirmed Wednesday afternoon it was the plane.

Several other pieces of the plane were found, including parts of a battery and interior and exterior parts of the plane.

The plane was heading from Concord, N.C., to Jacksonville.

NTSB investigators believe they know who was on the plane and said the plane came from the ATP Flight School in Jacksonville.

The school has not responded for comment.

Etcher said the NTSB will look into the rating of the pilot.

The plane will be taken to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, then to a secure location in Atlanta, where authorities can continue their investigation.

"The DNR has allowed us to use their building to lay the aircraft, examine everything about the aircraft and then once we do that, we will transport it to Atlanta for storage," said Etcher.

The NTSB will release a preliminary report by next week about what happened, and the identify of those on the plane will be released by the GBI or coroner's office.

A full report will be released within six months to a year.

The wrecked Piper PA-44 Seminole airplane was carried on a trailer to a warehouse Wednesday night as federal investigators try to figure out what caused the plane to crash.

Etcher said starting Thursday investigators will document each damaged part of the plane.

"We haven't been analyzing any of the damage at this point" Etcher said.

Investigators said a few minutes before the plane dropped off radar on Monday night, there was audio communication with two people on board, although circumstances surrounding what went wrong in the air are still unknown.