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3 die in small plane crash in S.C.

By Jason Rodriguez
jrodriguez@thesunnews.com

CONWAY, S.C. Three people died in the crash of a small plane just outside Conway on Saturday afternoon, authorities say.

James Major, 39, of Conway was the pilot of the plane, and his passengers were Kenneth Piuma, 42, of Myrtle Beach and Donald Dale Decker, 16, of Conway.

Authorities received a report of a crash in the Wood Creek Estates subdivision west of Conway about 1 p.m., Conway Police Lt. Selena Small told reporters at a news conference about two hours after the crash. No one on the ground was injured, and the plane did not strike any buildings.

The flight had taken off from Conway airport, according to Kirk Lovell, marketing manager for Myrtle Beach airports.

James Major, the father of the pilot, told The Sun News his son is an experienced pilot who also flies helicopters and has flown all over the world.

Jessica Scott was driving on Dunn Shortcut Road, which is just over a mile from the airport, when she saw the plane just above the treeline.

“It was abnormally low; you could see something was wrong,” said Scott, who lives in the neighborhood.

The plane struck a utility pole and spun, then went into the pavement, said Scott, who could hear crackling, possibly from the electric lines sizzling. “Sparks were literally bouncing on the ground.”

The fire began when the plane struck the ground, she said. Ten or 12 nearby men tried to get to the plane to help those inside, some carrying their home fire extinguishers. Scott said she could see one of those inside the plane trying to get out.

When it struck the utility pole, the plane knocked out electricity to the area. Horry Electric crews are working to restore power to the neighborhood, which is just west of Conway near Walmart.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board are heading to the scene.

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