Divers are working in the water off Brunswick, Georgia to investigate an “object of interest” in a plane crash.
“If that is the rest of the airplane, from that point on we will begin immediate recovery of any occupants that are inside,” says National Transportation Safety Board Air Safety Investigator Shawn Etcher.
A plane, believed to be a twin-engine Piper, traveling from North Carolina to Jacksonville crashed Monday evening off the coast of Georgia. The search for the wreckage at this point has focused around Grant Creek and Wallys Leg. The conditions there are “marshy” according to investigators, and only accessible by boat or air.
“At this time, they’ve only been able to pull small pieces of the airplane out of the water,” Etcher says.
Using sonar technology Tuesday, crews located what could be the plane submerged underwater. We’re told they are focusing on any anomaly on what is otherwise a relatively flat area, approximately 12-15 feet deep.
If divers determine this is a plane, it will be removed from the water- likely tomorrow. Investigation and recovery efforts will not go past nightfall.
“It’s not very conducive for the safety of the divers to go in the water and extract an airplane,” Etcher says.
After confirming whether this “object” is the plane in question, Etcher says they will search for the two passengers believed to have been on board. While the NTSB has a flight manifest, they are not releasing the names of those aboard until the identities are confirmed. They will also not release where the occupants are from.
The NTSB says the plane was communicating with flight control in Jacksonville prior to the crash and no distress signal was sent out. There are also no preliminary signs of foul play and the weather was conducive to flying, with only minimal wind and slight cloud coverage. They have not yet begun to attempt to figure out what happened to cause the crash, focusing first on recovering all the evidence.
The possible wreckage is in an area only accessible by water and by air. Etcher says they are making arrangements to have a barge and crane available to pull up the object, if divers confirm that it is the plane. Any sensitive evidence will be gathered on the scene before the plane itself is taken to a secure facility near Atlanta for further investigation.