Victim identified, cause still unknown in Fitzgerald plane crash

FITZGERALD, Ga. – Just under a day following a devastating plane crash in a Fitzgerald neighborhood, investigators are on site to see what could have caused the plane to lose control.

We spoke with National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Investigator Tim Monville at the crash site on East Suwanee Street Thursday afternoon.

He gave us the details on the takeoff of the plane and a witness report.

“NTSB has been notified there’s a witness that reported seeing the airplane flying low, banking left. The witness heard a sputtering engine, and then observed the airplane descend and then impact the ground,” said Tim Monville, Senior investigator, NTSB.

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One of the men on board the plane, 68-year-old William “Jack” Sumner was pronounced dead by the Ben Hill County Coroner.

His fellow passenger survived with unknown injuries and was flown to a hospital in Tallahassee.

For Vivian Lackey, it was a scary site indeed as the plane landed mere feet from her home.

“I was inside working and I heard the thump, and didn’t think nothing about it. Until I saw this female police officer run by so I came outdoors and I saw that they had the corner blocked and when I came to the end of my driveway, I looked and…just wow, that’s a plane, ” said Vivian Lackey, East Suwanee Street resident.

Brian Fitzgerald Pkg 091423 Frame At 1m21s

However, from what we were told by people living on Suwanee Street, it could have been much worse.

“For him to land where he did, he came through these two apartment buildings and not them, nor did he hit the power wires. So my heart really goes out to the family, but I do commend the pilot for bringing the plane down without any casualties on the ground,” said Lackey.

And, the investigation is going to continue for the NTSB.

“We’re in the process of recovering it today, we’re going to take it to a secure location. And there we’re going to inspect the airframe and the engine systems to see if there’s nay indication of pre-impact,” said Monville.

And while the NTSB continues their investigation, and takes a deeper look into the plane and why it crashed, residents in the neighborhood are thankful that the damage from the crash was kept to a minimum.

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According to the Ben Hill County Coroner’s Office, a cause of death has not yet been determined.

Brian Roche reporting.

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