Saturday, December 08, 2007

Randolph County plane crash kills 1

By Andy Johns
Star Staff Writer
SEWELL--At least one person is dead after a plane crashed in eastern Randolph County.
Randolph County EMA director Donnie Knight said a small, rented plane took a nose dive into a wooded area a few miles from the Georgia line near Bethel East church just after 9 p.m.
Knight said there was at least one fatality in the crash, but the plane is so deeply embed into the ground that it will take a backhoe to pull the fuselage from the ground to find any more victims. He said the plane appeared to have room for four occupants and was likely a single engine.
Randolph County Coroner Randy Gibbs arrived on the scene, but could not identify the victim.
“He came and went,” said Knight in the pre-dawn hours Saturday. “There was nothing he could do.”
One volunteer firefighter described the wreckage as “a pile of tin.” Another said that three men could easily hold all of the visible pieces of the plane in their arms.
Randolph County Sheriff deputies and volunteer firemen stood guard over the site Saturday morning.
According to a dispatcher at the Randolph County sheriff’s department, residents near Bethel East reported hearing a plane flying over and an explosion that shook their homes around 9:19 p.m. Friday.
Searchers located a plane down in the woods near the community at 10:37 p.m.
“We’re lucky we found it,” Knight said of the wreckage. He said he could not remember another plane crash in Randolph County.
Knight said there was not any bad weather at the time of the crash, but said there was no way to tell yet what caused the crash.
Agents from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were due to visit the site toward the middle of the day today.
Attempts to reach airports in Anniston, Ashland, Auburn, Birmingham, Lagrange, Ga. and Columbus, Ga. failed Friday night.

Contact Andy Johns at or call 235-3545.