The parents of a Fort Stewart soldier died from injuries sustaind in a plane crash Wednesday night just inside Long County from the Liberty County Aiport.
Colleagues of Marion, Ind., physician Om Prakash Rehil, a vascular and general surgeon, told Indianapolis ABC affiliate WRTV the doctor and his wife, Raji, were the victims of the crash, but authorities have not officially released the names of those involved in the incident.
Marion Municipal Airport Manager Andrew Darlington told the news station the Rehil's left the airport around 2 p.m. Wednesday.
According to Long County Sheriff Department Chief Deputy Robert Barry, at about 8 Wednesday a report came in that a plane had possibly crashed near the airport.
According to a witness who lived on Lee Place Road in Long County, a “plane appeared to be in trouble and it looked like it was going down.” Barry said two other eyewitnesses in the area gave similar reports.
At that time, deputies from the sheriff’s department, along with rescue workers from the Ludowici/Long County Fire Department began searching where the plane had been reported to be.
According to L/LCFD Chief Darrell Ballance a ground search lasted until 3 a.m. Thursday and involved 30 workers and volunteers.
The Civil Air Patrol then assumed the search and continued through the night, and at about 8 a.m. Thursday, police and rescue workers resumed the ground search.
According to Barry, a plane was scheduled to arrive between 8 and 9 on Wednesday night. He said a Fort Stewart soldier was expecting his father and mother to be flying in from South Carolina for a visit, but that they were overdue and he had not been able to reach them by cell phone.
The deputy also said an aerial search was tried early Thursday, but was didn’t find anything because of the bad weather. Barry said at around 10:45 Thursday morning, a helicopter from the Georgia State Patrol office in Reidsville arrived and began searching.
Ballance said that shortly after the helicopter search began, the wreckage of the plane was found in Long County.
Shortly thereafter, rescue workers were able to get to the wreckage, using all-terrain-vehicles. The plan was in a heavily wooded area in approximately three feet of water. The aircraft was a single-engine, two-seater that left a debris field of approximately 150 yards.
Ballance also said that two bodies were found in the wreckage, one of a male and the other of a female
Ballance said bulldozers had to be used to clear a path through the woods to get investigators to the downed plane. He also said the National Transportation Safety Board would be doing an investigation to determine what caused the crash, and that they would make the final report.
Barry said the crash site had been secured and only investigators could enter.
While stopping to refuel in South Carolina, Rehil reportedly called his son at about 6 p.m. to say the weather was becoming a problem and he was going to try to land the plane, according to associates.
The plane was owned by a flight club, of which Rehil was a member, acquaintances said.