Authorities say 1 dead in Morgantown plane crash


Friday June 22, 2012
Authorities say 1 dead in Morgantown plane crash

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – One person was killed when a small plane struck a radio tower in Coopers Rock State Forest and crashed, authorities said Friday.

Monongalia County Sheriff Al Kisner confirmed the fatality but couldn’t say whether anyone else was on board at the time,but wreckage was seen over a wide area.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane was a Hawker Beechcraft BE90, but spokesman Jim Peters would not immediately provide any information about its registration, ownership or flight plan.

The pilot’s identity hasn’t been released.

Mike Nichols, an aviation mechanic who assisted at the scene of the crash, said the pilot had been flying in hazy conditions when he struck the towers, tearing down part of one structure.

One of the towers struck is owned by West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Local authorities believe pilot error was the main factor with this accident. It was rumored the pilot had been squawking and small talk chat on 122.900 before accident.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board both dispatched investigators to the site off Interstate 68, but neither agency had more details Friday afternoon.

The plane crashed 7.5 miles east of Morgantown around 10 a.m. Friday, and the FAA was notified about 45 minutes later. Media outlets say the wreckage is scattered in both Monongalia and Preston counties.

One of West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s radio towers was hit. A technician near the crash site could see that an antenna at the top was gone, said Bill Acker, director of broadcasting and technology in Charleston.

That could disrupt public television service in the Morgantown area. Acker said it’s too soon to tell if there’s more damage to the tower or whether other services are affected.