COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A federal agency has begun gathering information for its preliminary investigation of a plane crash Tuesday in Marietta that killed two people.
Aaron McCarter, an aviation accident investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, spoke to reporters Wednesday morning and gave an update on what the NTSB knows so far on the crash. You can watch McCarter’s update in the video player below.
McCarter stated this is a “multi-national” investigative effort with American and Canadian agencies as part of the team of investigators, due to the engines of the aircraft model being manufactured in Canada.
“My goal is to have a preliminary report accomplished in the next 10 days,” McCarter said. “Within nine to 12 months, we’ll have a factual report drafted. Shortly thereafter, the NTSB board members will sign off on a probable cause.”
If any witnesses to the crash have any additional information to help with the investigation, McCarter asked them to visit this website. The NTSB is working with anything it can as evidence, as there was no blackbox on the plane, but other equipment aboard offered some record of what happened.
“I’m going to be taking a lot of information — volatile memory off of the aircraft, radar data, I have a weather study being accomplished as we speak,” McCarter said.
At 7:09 a.m. Tuesday, a twin-engine Beechcraft BE9L that took off from John Glenn International Airport in Columbus crashed into the parking lot of the Pioneer Buick GMC dealership in Marietta. The plane was expected to land at Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport in Parkersburg, West Virginia, approximately three miles from the crash site.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol identified the two people who died in the crash:
- Timothy F. Gifford, 49, of Orient
- Eric S. Seevers, 45, of Parkersburg
Gifford was a Columbus firefighter who retired in May. He was also a Liberty Township/Powell firefighter and paramedic from 1996 until 2007, according to the department.
Columbus Division of Fire shared a social media post in remembrance of Gifford, who said he began with CFD in 2006 and was an instructor at the Columbus Fire Training Academy mentoring new recruits.
McCarter said communication between the pilot and the air traffic control was normal and the plan had been clear to land at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport roughly 40 seconds before the crash.
“We do have some very preliminary weather information saying that there was icing in the area so we’re going to be paying particular attention to the de-icing capabilities of this airplane and then, of course, we have the geography, the weather, the environment, and the air traffic control,” he said.
McCarter says no black box was on board, but some of the plane’s equipment can function as one. He hopes it survived the crash.
“There will be a lot of parameters that are saved, so I’m hopeful I’ll be able to take some of the information on those boxes from the cockpit,” he said.
NBC4 spoke to the general manager of the auto dealership, Rod Taylor, who said that only one person was in the building when the plane crashed and was on the opposite side to where the fire started that damaged 12 cars.
“[I] feel blessed that none of my people got injured, that’s for certain, but like I said, I feel bad for the pilot and co-pilot,” Taylor said. “It’s a tragic day.”
Surveillance video from a nearby business showed the plane falling straight down out of the sky before crashing and exploding. Warning: viewers may find the footage below disturbing.
Dr. Shawn Pruchnicki, a former plane accident investigator who is now a professor at Ohio State University’s Center for Aviation Studies, pointed out the glow on the plane as it came down and the smoke trail showed the plane may have been on fire in the air.
“The other thing you notice is just the angle,” Pruchnicki said. “How steep the aircraft is coming to the ground. This is not a controlled descent. This is an out-of-control aircraft.”
McCarter is also urging people to not jump to conclusions when it comes to some surveillance video showing the plane prior to the crash.
“The airplane had its landing light on, its anti-collision lights on, and its rotating beacon on, which are very bright, as it was coming out of the sky,” he said. “That made it look like the airplane was on fire, but there’s no evidence, according to the video, that the plane was on fire, but again, that’s something we’re still looking into.”
Marietta is along the Ohio River on the border with West Virginia. View the plane’s flight path before it crashed in Marietta in the RadarBox record below: