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Plane with 8 aboard crashes off North Carolina; 1 body found

Coast Guard suspends search
Coast Guard
Posted at 3:38 PM, Feb 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-15 20:40:52-05

MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (AP) — A small plane carrying eight people crashed into the ocean off North Carolina's Outer Banks and left behind multiple debris fields where crews searched for the missing passengers, the Coast Guard said.

One body has so far been recovered and identified, Carteret County Sheriff Asa Buck told reporters Monday afternoon. He declined to release that person's name or details about the other people who were on board, including their ages, “out of respect for the families.”

“We have no indication that anyone survived the crash,” the sheriff said.

Search crews are still looking for the main body of the plane but have identified three debris fields, which had been moving farther off shore into the Atlantic Ocean, Buck said.

U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Matthew J. Baer told reporters that multiple vessels from various agencies are continuing the search.

“We’ve got an all-hands-on-deck event going on here,” Baer said. “And we want the citizens of Carteret County and eastern North Carolina to know that your Coast Guard is out there doing our absolute best alongside our partners.”

The Coast Guard said in a news release that it received a report of a possible downed aircraft about 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) east of Drum Inlet from a Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point air traffic controller Sunday. The air traffic controller reported that the aircraft was behaving erratically on radar, then disappeared from the screen.

The single-engine Pilatus PC-12/47 crashed into the water approximately 18 miles (29 kilometers) northeast of Michael J. Smith Field in Beaufort, North Carolina, about 2 p.m. local time Sunday, according to an email from the Federal Aviation Administration. A preliminary accident notification on the FAA’s website noted that the aircraft “crashed into water under unknown circumstances.”

FlightAware listed a departure for that plane from Hyde County Airport at 1:35 p.m. Sunday and noted it was last seen near Beaufort at 2:01 p.m.

“Our prayers and deep concerns go to the families and loved ones of the passengers,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper tweeted Monday afternoon. “We’re grateful for the people in our state and local agencies who are supporting the efforts of the Coast Guard and other first responders.”

Bailey Evans has issued the following statement on behalf of a family and Green Assets regarding the recent North Carolina plane crash:

We can confirm that Hunter Parks was among the passengers of the flight that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on Sunday afternoon. We are grateful for the many men and women – authorities and volunteers – who remain active in the recovery operation and investigation. We sincerely appreciate the outpouring of love, prayers, and concern expressed over the incident.

We have no further comment at this time and ask that the privacy of all parties involved is respected. Thank you.” 

The search included boats and a helicopter from three Coast Guard stations, local fire and sheriff's department personnel and and National Park Service beach crews.

The National Transportation Safety Board tweeted Monday that it is investigating the crash.

The Coast Guard said Coast Guard Cutter Richard Snyder will remain on scene overnight.

On Tuesday, the Coast Guard announced it has suspended its search for the passengers of the downed aircraft.

“The Coast Guard will continue to work alongside our local partners through ongoing recovery operations. Our deepest sympathies are with the Down East community,” said Capt. Matt Baer, sector commander, Sector North Carolina. “We are grateful for the outstanding collaboration we have had with our state and local partners, as well as numerous volunteers.”

The following agencies were involved in the search:

  • Coast Guard Cutter Rollin Fritch 
  • Coast Guard Cutter Richard Snyder
  • Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircraft
  • Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk
  • Coast Guard Station Fort Macon Motor Lifeboat
  • Coast Guard Station Hatteras Inlet Response Boat-Small
  • National Park Service beach crews
  • Towboat U.S. 
  • Carteret County Sheriff's Office 
  • Carteret County Emergency Services
  • Down East Fire Department
  • Morehead City Fire Department
  • Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point units

The Coast Guard Cutter Richard Snyder will assist local law enforcement with recovery efforts. The National Transportation Safety Board will be conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the incident.