Five Killed When Small Plane Crashes In South Carolina

A single-engine aircraft crashed in South Carolina this week, killing all five individuals on board.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the Piper PA-32 plane went down just to the northwest of Grand Strand Airport in North Myrtle Beach at about 11 a.m. on Sunday. Four of its occupants were pronounced dead at the scene while the fifth was transported to an area hospital and died a short time later.

There have now been four deadly plane crashes near the small airport in just over two years.

The plane had just taken off from the airport and was in its initial ascent at the time of the crash. As of the latest reports available, no cause for the incident had been determined.

Along with the National Transportation Safety Board, the FAA confirmed that it was engaged in an investigation of the circumstances.

One NTSB source stressed that it is “important to note” that the agency “does not determine cause in the early part of the investigative process,” adding: “This is considered the fact-gathering phase of the investigation.”

Authorities expect that a preliminary report related to the crash will be available within about two weeks.

One witness who was driving near the airport at the time said she saw the plane as it crashed, describing the experience as “terrifying.”

As Julie Head recalled: “My first thought was, OMG, what if it hit a house? And it was just, my heart was in my throat. I couldn’t breathe. I felt completely helpless.”

Describing the scene that led to the plane going down, she said that she saw it “do like a sharp banking turn, and it literally was standing straight up on the wing.”

At that point, she said that “it kind of did a really sharp turn” and “looked like it went upside down and behind the tree line.”

Moments later, she “heard the boom” and “immediately saw the smoke.”

Robert Katz, a long-time commercial pilot who heard the communication between the pilot and air traffic controllers prior to takeoff, said there was no indication of any potential problem. He went on to say that the PA-32 is known to be a reliable aircraft.

“It’s out of the ordinary,” Katz concluded. “It’s not something to be expected.”