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Investigation Commences Into Plane Crash

By Staff | Sep 13, 2017

Photo by Ed Parsons Personnel from Bridgeport’s Department of Emergency Management had a command center set-up at the top of Fallen Timber, a mountainous area in Wetzel County.

Wetzel County Sheriff Mike Koontz said Friday his department is assisting the Federal Aviation Administration and the Wetzel County coroner at the scene of a plane crash that killed two people.

Koontz said FAA officials arrived at the scene, a gully in a hilly area of Wetzel County near Jacksonburg, Friday morning. The National Transportation Safety Board also will be involved in the investigation.

The Cirrus SR20 aircraft was discovered by ground crews at approximately 2 p.m. Thursday, according to a statement from the FAA. On Thursday, personnel at a command center, located at the top of Fallen Timber Road, said it appeared that the plane had gone down in a hilly area, coming to rest in a gully.

In a statement, Civil Air Patrol West Virginia Wing officials said there were two people on the airplane, and there were no survivors. Multiple published reports identify the victims as Bill and Pat Searcy of Carterville, Ill.

“A total of 48 members of the WV Wing Civil Air Patrol supported the search effort to find the overdue aircraft which was located (Thursday) in Wetzel County,” said Col. Paul McCroskey, wing commander for the Civil Air Patrol. “Three search aircraft performed aerial searches and four ground teams also participated. As volunteers who provide professional service when called upon, our members always stand ready to perform search and rescue activities when needed.”

According to the FAA, the plane departed Delaware Coastal Airport in Georgetown, Del., on Tuesday. Its destination was Fleming-Mason Airport in Flemingsburg, Ky.

Delaware Coastal Airport Manager Jim Hickin said the plane is registered to SGLJ Inc. of Carbondale, Illinois.

Radar contact with the aircraft was lost approximately 23 miles northwest of Clarksburg. Volunteer fire departments and Harrison County 911 set up a command post at the Wallace Volunteer Fire Department.

Harrison County Sheriff Robert Matheny said his office was notified of the missing aircraft at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. Ground searches were conducted throughout the day Wednesday, while at least one drone and a helicopter from the West Virginia State Police were used.

Connie Thomaschek, assistant chief of Harrison County, W.Va. 911, said a “ping” on one of the presumed crash victims’ cellphones showed coordinates between Wallace, in Harrison County, and Fallen Timber, in Wetzel County, helping to narrow the search area.