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Preliminary report issued for fatal plane crash

POSTED: October 2, 2017 1:06 p.m.
Photo provided by Bryan County Emergency Services/

The wreckage of a single-engine plane that crashed in North Bryan on Aug. 28, claiming the lives of all three people on board.

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The National Transportation Safety Board has released its initial report for an Aug. 28 plane crash in North Bryan County that killed three people.

The report, which indicates it is “preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors,” said that no pre-impact defects were noted with respect to the frame, but that an examination of the engine “revealed a hole in the top right rear of the engine case” about two inches in diameter. The report said the crankshaft was visible through the hole.

The NTSB said the crash occurred at 8:49 a.m. on Aug. 28 and that the Beechcraft “was destroyed when it collided with trees and terrain following a complete loss of engine power.”

Killed in the crash were William Cocke, 42, and Catherine Cocke, 39, of Savannah, along with the pilot of the chartered plane that was flying the couple from Savannah to Cobb County. The couple left behind five children ranging in age from 10 months to 13 years. The pilot was identified as Randy Hunter of Tyrone, Ga.

Bryan County Emergency Services Chief Freddy Howell said the FAA contacted his agency around 9:30 a.m. saying the plane was flying at an altitude of about 300 feet before it crashed.

The wreckage of the aircraft was found at 11:18 a.m. when it was spotted by a Coast Guard helicopter. Searchers included Bryan County Emergency Services, Bryan County Sheriff's Office, Effingham County Sheriff's Office and Effingham County Emergency Services. Emergency personnel used ATVs to get to the aircraft. It was located off of Eldora and Croft roads.

John Brannen, a senior safety investigator with the NTSB, said the last radio contact the pilot had with air traffic control at the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport was at 8:39 a.m. the day of the crash when he indicated he was having engine problems and would attempt to return to the airport.

The plane crashed in a heavily wooded area near a cotton field in North Bryan near the Effingham County line. Brannen said the day after the crash that he was unsure if the pilot was attempting to land in the field or not.

The NTSB said it would take six months to a year for a final report to be issued. The engine was sent to the manufacturer’s headquarters for a more thorough examination.

The preliminary report indicates the plane had a descent angle of 45 degrees and a ground impact of 25 degrees from vertical and that it “sustained major damage to all major components during the accident sequence.”

The report also said the plane’s landing gear was retracted and there was an impact crater about 10 feet directly in front of the nose of the plane.

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