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Witness: Crash sounded "like an explosion"

Witness: Crash sounded

WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC 

From our News Partners at WCBD-TV:

Authorities identified the victim of a plane crash near the airport in Georgetown as, 79-year-old John Prince Harris.  He was the only passenger aboard.

Officials say the plane crashed at 1:19 p.m.

Ray Moore was sitting on his computer when his house suddenly became the scene of the plane crash.

"I heard something like it was at a high speed,a and then shortly after that it just "boom" like an explosion," Moore said.  "At that time when I went to look out the door, there was a big ball of smoke and there were flames in the air."

According to the flight records, the Folland Aircraft Gnat T1 plane, left the Charleston, West Virginia airport around 12:26 Monday afternoon. The flight plane shows the plane was planning on landing at the Georgetown County Airport.

Harris was flying into Georgetown to join his family who was visiting the area.

"He has a home in the area, so coming into Georgetown was not new or unusual," Coroner Kenneth Johnson said.

The crash site is close to 100 yards into a densely wooded area. Officials were seen using off road vehicles to get to the site.

"Initially it was very difficult because it's a very wooded thick area," Johnson said.  "The county roads folks were able to cut a trail through for us."

Officials also had to battle thunderstorms that covered the area just off of Highway 17 for most of the afternoon. Johnson said the plane appears to have crashed straight into the ground and created a debris site about 50 yards in diameter.

"It looks to me that the damage to the plane was caused by the crash itself," he said. "Pieces of metal were torn. Nothing appeared to have any definite edges. They were all torn which would be consistent with hitting the ground."

Moore said he and his family are lucky the plane did not hit his home.

"Thank God it [isn't any] closer than it is because it could have been closer," Moore said "When the plane did crash you could feel the vibration from the crash and the explosion. Everything in the house just vibrated."

The Coroner says it appears that Harris died as a result of the crash and there didn't seem to be an in-flight medical emergency. An official autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.

Officials from the Federal Aviation Authority and the National Transportation Safety Board will be on scene to remove the wreckage, which authorities say will take several days.

Image courtesy of WCBD-TV.

 

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