Pilot identified in south Ga. small plane crash

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Pilot Rick Poppell was from Jessup

VALDOSTA, Ga. - Authorities in Lowndes County have identified and recovered the body of a pilot whose small plane crashed in southern Georgia.

Rick Poppell, of Jesup, died when his plane crashed Monday night in the Lake Park area, said Chris Prine, Lowndes County Sheriff.

Officials Tuesday said Poppell, 52, was the owner of Poppell's Produce, in Jesup. Lowndes County Deputy Coroner William Carter said Poppell's body was recovered around 11:45 a.m.

Poppell left the Valdosta Regional Airport at 8:30 p.m. Monday and told authorities by radio he was having some type of problem, authorities said.

The Federal Aviation Administration had issued an alert for a missing single-engine Diamond Aircraft DA 40 in the Valdosta-Lake Park area, FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen told The Associated Press.

Poppell was the only person on board, Bergen said.

Georgia Highway Patrol officials told the FAA that the wreckage was spotted from the air around 11:15 a.m. Tuesday, after a search of the area, Bergen said.

The terrain in the area is rugged, and crews on the ground were attempting to reach the site around mid-day Tuesday, authorities said.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Lake Park is about 13 miles southeast of Valdosta and just north of the Georgia-Florida line.

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