Only a day after a small aircraft sank into Spokane river in Washington, killing two people, another plane crash was reported on Friday, the 8th of May 2015, with a fatal outcome for the four people aboard.
The single engine plane crashed not too long after takeoff, on Interstate 285, in the suburban part of Atlanta, at about 10.00 a.m.. Even if authorities did not release the names of the victims immediately, it is now known that it was being flown by former deputy Greg Byrd, aged 53, from Asheville, North Carolina.
The plane took off at 9.59 and was supposed to land at 11.00 a.m. in Oxford, Mississippi, where Byrd and the other passengers (his son, Christopher Byrd of Atlanta and his fiancé, Jackie Kulzer, and his other son Phillip Byrd of Asheville) were going to attend the graduation of his youngest son on Saturday.
According to spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen of the Federal Aviation Administration, the Piper PA-32 departed from Runway 3 Right at DeKalb Peachtree Airport, so the place of the accident is not more than a mile away. The experts are planning to do a flight reconstruction to establish the causes of the accident. Eric Alleyne, a National Transportation Safety Board air safety investigator stated that the plane had just refueled before taking off. A full report of the crash is expected to be released in six months to a year.
According to witnesses, the plane tried to avoid the impact with the ground for a while. While doing so, it barely missed a traffic light pole near the highway. It also nearly struck a vehicle driven by a former DeKalb County firefighter. The plane clipped a cab hood just before truck driver Gerald Smith pushed the brakes. When it crashed, it soon became ablaze and nobody was able to go anywhere near it to try to save the victims. Unfortunately, after the fire department put out the fire, there was not much left. Captain Eric Jackson of the DeKalb County Fire Department said that even if it was a tragic event, it was a miracle that no other cars were hit during the plane crash. No people were hurt apart from those who died aboard the plane.
The traffic was blocked in the area. Both the eastbound and the westbound lanes were closed until early in the afternoon.
It is yet uncertain whether the pilot had radioed his situation before the impact. The plane had no black box , but only an emergency local transmitter.
According to experts, there was not much Greg Byrd could have done, since during a failure, the pilot must direct the plane to a safe landing. Interstate 285 was pretty much the only option he had at the moment, even if it was not the best, given the rush hour.
Greg Byrd was a well-respected man in the community. He had served 17 years as a deputy with the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department, before going into the tanning salons business in 2006. Buncomb County Sheriff Van Duncan spoke dearly about him, saying that he was professional and active, that he was adventurous and loved life very much. Byrd got his pilot’s license earlier this year, on January 22nd.
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