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Search resumes for 2 in Ga. plane crash

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Steve Lyttle
cwootson@charlotteobserver.com

Crews continued the search Tuesday for a plane that crashed Monday evening near Brunswick, Ga., on a flight from Concord to northern Florida.

Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said the Piper PA-44 crashed about 4 miles from Brunswick Golden Isles Airport with two people on board at 7:10 p.m.

The reports came soon after the FAA lost radar contact with a twin-engine plane, according to a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard.

The FAA has not released the names of the people on board.

Search crews suspended operations at midnight Monday but resumed looking through the marsh about 7 a.m. Tuesday. Crews said on Tuesday that they had recovered pieces of the plane but saw no signs of the two people aboard.

According to several media reports, the plane is thought to have belonged to ATP Flight School, which has operations in 34 cities, including Concord and Jacksonville.

Phone calls to Airline Transport Professionals (ATP), based in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., have not been returned.

The plane left Concord’s airport and was scheduled to land at Jacksonville Executive at Craig Airport, Bergen said.

It is unclear what caused the plane to crash. The FAA is investigating, and the National Transportation Safety Board will determine the cause.

The Florida Times-Union reported that debris from the crash was accessible only by water.

The search was being led Tuesday morning by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, with help from the U.S. Coast Guard. The marsh is fed by Grant Creek, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean.

Officials with the Department of Natural Resources said water depth in the area ranges from a few inches to more than 10 feet.

Marshes of Mackay resident Valerie Whitehead told the Florida Times-Union that she was walking in the neighborhood when the sound of the plane’s engines caught her attention. “It was making a noise like it was trying to climb,” she said.

Then the sound of the engines stopped.

“You could just see it going backward and floating down almost,” Whitehead told the newspaper. Then she heard the sound of a loud impact.

Wootson: 704-358-5046; Twitter: @CleveWootson
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