By Lindsay Knowles, Digital Producer and Mike Lacy, Reporter
DIAMONDHEAD, MS (WLOX) –
The scene was horrific: A Cessna 172 plane torn apart, pieces melted. Trees smashed from the impact. And in the middle of it all was the body of the male pilot burned beyond recognition.
“We know it’s a local pilot who was just doing some flying here locally,” said Diamondhead Fire Chief Jerry Dubuisson. “He wasn’t headed out of town.”
The plane went down a little after 7 a.m. Friday after taking off from the Diamondhead Airport.
“The owner of the plane told me that before the pilot took off, he’d indicated to him – as they all have to do for him – that he was going to be flying today. And that was just a typical, ‘I’ll be flying today, and I’ll be in the Diamondhead area.'”
There was no record of a mayday call. As it went down, the plane clipped a power line. First responders were delayed until Coast Electric Power crews could shut the power off and ground the wire.
By noon, Federal Aviation Authority officials had begun their investigation.
It’s the first plane crash Jerry Dubuisson has had to work as fire chief.
“The experiences we’ve had with planes typically in Diamondhead have been a mechanical malfunction while it’s in the air and the pilot’s been able to work that through or get the plane safely on the ground with minor damage,” Dubuisson said.
Coroner Jim Faulk couldn’t believe the call. It’s the second fatal accident in as many days in the same place.
“I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ I didn’t believe dispatch,” Faulk said. “The thing that gets my eyes kind of teary is to have to notify the family members. That’s the worst thing that you could be asked to do, but you have to do it.”
Faulk said the official identification of the pilot will have to be done using dental records, and the process could take a while.
Chief Dubuisson said the National Transportation Safety Board will be on scene Saturday conducting its investigation.