NTSB sent to McClellanville crash site; Victims' IDs released

MCCLELLANVILLE, S.C. (WCIV) -- An official from the NTSB office in Atlanta was dispatched to McClellanville overnight to survey the wreckage from a downed plane.

The coroner's office identified the victims of the crash as Patrick Eudy, 44, and Robert Ulrich, 69.

An NTSB official said in a press conference Friday that investigators will be taking plane parts to Atlanta Air Recovery in Griffin, Ga., and it will be an extensive process to remove them from the site. The NTSB will issue a preliminary report about one week later.

"We spent the day today getting our initial photos and documenting the size of the wreckage site," NTSB investigator Ralph Hicks said. "This is a large airplane. It takes heavy equipment to move it around. We'll start with that tomorrow. We'll probably be on site for a couple of days."

NTSB officials said both men in the plane were pilots on an instructional flight.

"It came through the trees at a 45-degree angle to the ground, which is steep. It impacted and then broke apart," Hicks said.

An incident report from Charleston County Sheriff's Office said a witness heard what sounded like engine trouble, followed by a thud.

A 911 caller also said the plane was making strange noises, adding three others heard the plane crash.

The plane, identified by the Federal Aviation Administration as a Rockwell International 690B, went down about 40 miles north of Charleston Thursday afternoon. On Friday, the flight agency identified the plane's tail number as N727JA.

According to FlightAware, the plane left Charleston Executive Airport on Johns Island Thursday afternoon. That plane's tail number is registered to Nighthawk Air, LLC, a company out of Matthews, N.C.

"FAA records show it's a 1977 model aircraft which is not unusual. There are plenty of airplanes flying like that," Hicks said.

Officials said the plane was found about two miles from South Tibwin Road, off Highway 17. The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane left the airport on a training flight to Georgetown and had a planned return to Johns Island.

According to an NTSB official, no distress signal came from the plane before it went down. He said the plane went down at a 45-degree angle and there was no apparent weather activity that would've interfered with the training flight.

"There were no thunder storms in the area and no cumulus activity that would interfere with what they were going to do on this flight," Hicks said.

Awendaw Fire Department Battalion Chief Fred Tetor said the area where the plane was found was marshy, about knee deep, two miles from the command post near Highway 17.

"There are a couple of big ditches back there. We've had to put some ladders to go from land mass to land mass to get to some of those areas. That was some of the biggest challenges. It's just muddy there," Tetor said.

Chief Tetor said the area is difficult to navigate. They had to bring ladders to get across certain areas. Tetor also told the Associated Press that those at the site could smell fuel.

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