Plane wreckage removed from crash site near Bryan/Effingham Co. - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Plane wreckage removed from crash site near Bryan/Effingham Co. line

(Source: Bryan County Fire) (Source: Bryan County Fire)

Tuesday evening, crews removed the small charter plane that crashed in Ellabell Monday morning.

The crash killed the three people aboard when it went down in a wooded area. WTOC was there as crews hauled it away from the scene. The National Transportation Safety Board began their investigation Tuesday as well. They tell us it's a long process, beginning with examining the wreckage. 

"We're collecting radar data from Savannah Air Traffic Communications. Some of that stuff, our specialists in Washington are requesting. The radar data, the air traffic communications, we can look at that at a later date. Those are preserved and we can look at those and see if we can figure out exactly what happened," said John Brannen, NTSB Air Safety Investigator. 

Brannen says the pilot reported engine trouble and was attempting to return to the Savannah Airport when the plane went down. 

The crash killed Savannah's Catherine and William Byron Cocke, along with the pilot, Randy Hunter, when it crashed on the Bryan/Effingham County line in a wooded area near Eldora and Croft roads. Hunter had his own business - Hunter Aviation and Consulting. 

Brannen tells us there are no fast or easy answers in a crash like this, and their final theory of what happened will take months. 

County emergency leaders, along with Brannen, spoke Tuesday afternoon, giving a timeline for moving the wreckage of the Beech A36 plane to the Atlanta area where it will be inspected. The engine itself would be sent to the manufacturer in Mobile, AL. 

The plane crashed near a cotton field and a family's homestead. One family member said they're heartbroken for the families of those lost, but also frustrated by people not in the investigation trying to get there to see the wreckage. 

"If they would just stay away and let them do their job. You can't see it, we can't see it. We're not going back there. We don't want to see it," said Tanya Redmond, neighbor. 

Information such as maintenance reports and the number of flight hours logged are not public. All of that will likely come out when the investigation is complete. However, we did find a video on YouTube from 2015 of the exact type of plane that crashed. According to a study on these types of planes released in the Airfacts Journal in 2016, the Bonanza A-36 has typically had a higher deadly accident rate than average. The pilot who conducted that study said, 'these planes have had a long accident history related to an improper latched cabin door coming open right after takeoff followed by a rush to return and land and ending in a stall/spin accident. It's been a problem for these types of planes for the last 15 years.'

Of course, it is still unclear what exactly caused the plane to go down. That's what the NTSB will continue to investigate. The NTSB independently investigates all civil aviation accidents. It's not part of the Department of Transportation or Federal Aviation Administration. The Safety Board has no regulatory or enforcement powers. 

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