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Kanawha County plane crash kills 2

By Rachel Molenda, Staff writer and Travis Crum
LAWRENCE PIERCE | Saturday Gazette-Mail
Emergency responders gather on Kelleys Creek Road in Eastern Kanawha County Friday evening, waiting for word about a small airplane that crashed in the area. Two people were reported killed in the crash.
LAWRENCE PIERCE | Saturday Gazette-Mail photos Emergency responders gather on Kelleys Creek Road in Kanawha County Friday evening, awaiting word on an airplane that crashed.
A West Virginia State Police helicopter circles the Kelleys Creek area, searching for the site of the crash.
RICK STEELHAMMER Saturday Gazette-Mail Pratt resident Wayne Spangler looks across the Kanawha River through a spotting scope, trying to find the plane’s wreckage. His son, Jordan (right), and an unidentified neighbor join him.

A small airplane flying from Ohio to South Carolina crashed in Eastern Kanawha County late Friday afternoon, and emergency officials were told that two people aboard the aircraft were dead.

The crash was reported just before 5 p.m. West Virginia State Police, using a helicopter, found the crash site about two hours later, said Cpl. Brian Humphreys of the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department.

The crash site is about a mile from U.S. 60 between Glasgow and Hugheston, Humphreys said.

Emergency officials were told by the Pratt Volunteer Fire Department that two people had been killed, said a Metro 911 dispatcher.

A Piper PA-32 “apparently crashed” in near Charleston, according to a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman.

The plane came from Akron Fulton International Airport, in Ohio, and was headed to Spartanburg Downtown Memorial Airport, in South Carolina, she said.

Two people were aboard the aircraft, the spokeswoman said. She said the FAA would release the plane’s identification number after local authorities confirmed the status of the plane’s two occupants and released their names.

Federal officials told the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management that the pilot of a plane requested help navigating around bad weather, said Lawrence Messina, communications director of the state’s Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.

“While folks were trying to provide him with help, they lost contact,” Messina said.

Humphreys said the airplane did not come from and was not headed to Charleston’s Yeager Airport, confirming what Yeager Director Rick Atkinson said shortly after the crash was reported.

“[The plane] wasn’t one that left out here this afternoon, and there wasn’t anything with a flight plan to come in,” Atkinson said.

No distress calls were reported by the control tower to the airport, Atkinson said.

Humphreys said Friday evening the FAA would be taking over the crash investigation. County emergency officials would secure the crash site and stay with it overnight because of a risk the debris catching fire. FAA officials were expected to be on the scene early Saturday morning.

Police set up a staging area at Ward Cemetery, off Kelleys Creek Road. Crews were trying to get to the crash site using ATVs, Humphreys said.

U.S. 60, from Riverside to the Montgomery Bridge, was closed briefly but was reopened at about 6:30 p.m.

Staff writer Rick Steelhammer contributed to this report.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.

Reach Rachel Molenda at rachel.molenda@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.


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