LUBBOCK, Texas – Two people died Tuesday after a plane that took off from Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport crashed near Thomson, Georgia.
According to FlightAware, the plane took off just after 2:00 a.m. (CST) and went missing about 5:45 a.m. (ET).
The crash victims were identified as Raymond Bachman, 73, of Fountain Hills, Arizona, and Claude Duchesne, 63, of El Paso, late Tuesday afternoon by the McDuffie County Coroner’s Office.
Paul McCorkle, an eyewitness, said, “It was very evident that it was real low to the ground. It had hit pine trees that were maybe 40 feet tall. … The plane was mighty low, and it was still over a half a mile from the airport.”
The National Transportation Safety Board said there was no distress signal sent from the pilots, but the voice cockpit recorder from the plane was recovered from the wreckage.
The FAA originally reported the plane was a business jet, but the NTSB later confirmed it was a cargo plane.
Adam Gerhardt, an NTSB senior air safety investigator, said they would be on the scene for two to four days and release a preliminary report in 10 days. He did, however, say the plane hit trees, and the wreckage was highly fragmented.
Data from the National Weather Service indicated there were thunderstorms in Georgia. The plane went through those storms and came out the other side at the time of the crash. The automated weather observing system (AWOS) at the Thomson-McDuffie County Airport reported overcast conditions at the time of the crash.
Watch coverage for the crash below: