One person was killed Monday night after a small plane crashed in Dawson County, investigators said.
“We got a call around 7:25 (p.m.) from the FAA that there had been a distress call from a plane,” Dawson County Emergency Services Chief Billy Thurmond said. “We sent units to Auraria Road and found debris in the roadway that they suspected was from the plane.”
Auraria Road is located between highways 400 and 9 in the southeastern part of Dawson County.
Search and rescue teams from Dawson, Lumpkin and Forsyth counties began searching an area near 1549 Auraria Road.
“We located the wreckage near a house on Auraria Road; located the fuselage and the pilot, who was deceased,” Thurmond said.
The search lasted approximately 30-45 minutes.
Dawson County Emergency Services Deputy Chief Tim Satterfield said he found the fuselage and its single occupant near the top of a small mountain.
“The people I talked to said they heard a noise, so I started walking around the back of the property, and I could smell fuel,” Satterfield said. “I just kept gridding back and forth and walked about 45 minutes. I found the fuselage and the pilot. I looked inside at the seats, and couldn’t see anybody else.”
Dawson County resident Laland Anderson said he heard the plane hit.
“Something went over; it was real loud; you could here him trying to pull up but it didn’t,” Anderson said. “I heard it hit and evidently it must have hit over here on top of this mountain because on the other side of the road – where my son Joe’s old house is – it’s over there where the fuselage is at. It had to hit here for the wings to be over there and all this debris.”
Pieces of wreckage were visible in a field and on a small mountain behind Anderson’s home on Auraria Road.
“There was no fire or anything, but I could smell the jet fuel. That’s when I called 911,” he said.
FAA officials confirmed a single-engine Piper Malibu PA-46 with seating for up to seven departed Morristown, N.J., Municipal Airport and was headed to DeKalb-Peachtree Airport in Chamblee, near Atlanta. Air traffic controllers lost contact with the flight at approximately 7:15 p.m.
Dense fog and rain blanketed the area at that time.
The craft was registered to a Georgia entity.
Dawson County sheriff’s deputies were on the scene of the crash.
“It took about 30 minutes to locate the fuselage, and to find the male pilot,” Major Tony Wooten said. “The body was taken by the coroner.”
Dawson County Coroner Ted Bearden confirmed he retrieved the pilot’s remains at approximately 10:15 p.m.
The cause of the crash is currently under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA. At presstime, officials had not released the pilot’s name. Check dawsonadvertiser.com for updates.