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NTSB Releases Preliminary Information On Plane Crash That Killed Two In Kanawha County

Reported: Apr. 22, 2014 1:16 PM EDT
Updated: Apr. 22, 2014 6:25 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The National Transportation Safety Board has released some preliminary information about a plane crash that killed two people in Kanawha County.

The report does not list a cause of the crash, but provides information leading up and after the April 11 incident that claimed the lives of pilot Lazarus Enoch Sommers, 50, and his wife, Maryann Sommers, both natives of Millersburg, Ohio.

A massive local emergency response resulted after witnesses saw the plane go down in Eastern Kanawha County.

Following is the information from the NTSB report:

About 5 p.m. April 11 a Piper PA-32RT-300T was destroyed when it struck trees and terrain near Cedar Grove. The commercial pilot and one passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the flight, which departed Akron Fulton International Airport in Akron, Ohio, about 3:15 p.m. and was destined for Spartanburg Downtown Memorial Airport in Spartanburg, S.C.

Preliminary air traffic control information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration indicated that after departure, the pilot climbed the airplane to an altitude of 12,000 feet on a direct course to Spartanburg, and established radio communications with air traffic control. About 4:15 p.m., the pilot requested and was cleared to make a 30-degree left turn to maneuver around an area of precipitation. About 4:25 p.m., the pilot initiated a left turn to the north and began to descend, and when asked by air traffic control, stated that he was deviating around weather. The airplane subsequently turned right, made a 270-degree turn, and began tracking south, then southwest, before radio contact was lost with the pilot. Subsequently, the flight was lost from radar contact and at about 5 p.m. emergency operators received calls concerning the accident.

Two witnesses near the accident site observed the airplane as it overflew their home. They described the sound of the engine as "loud," but stated that it was fading in and out. They both stated that the airplane was in a nose-down, right bank attitude as it descended into trees. They subsequently heard the sound of impact, but did not see any smoke or fire in the vicinity of the crash site. The witnesses reported that the weather was overcast, and that about 10 minutes after the accident, it began raining.

The wreckage was located on a densely wooded hillside at an elevation of about 1,400 feet. The initial impact point was identified by broken tree branches and the right wingtip fairing. The wreckage path continued from the initial impact point on an approximate 360-degree heading, and measured about 300 feet in length. Several 3-inch diameter tree branches displaying 45-degree cuts were identified along the wreckage path, and pieces associated with both wings, the vertical stabilizer and rudder, and left and right horizontal stabilizers were located. Terrain at the accident site and disposition of the wreckage precluded thorough examination. The wreckage was recovered to a secure storage facility, and examination of the airframe and engine was scheduled for a later date.



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