By LARRY HOBBS

Twisted and scattered shards of metal were all that remained Saturday of a single-engine airplane, which plunged into the woods during a fatal fiery crash off Sinclair Plantation Road on St. Simons Island’s north end.

The crash occurred about 9:25 a.m. Saturday, the pilot was flying the Cessna 182 plane from Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport to McKinnon St. Simons Island Airport on the island’s south end, said Brian Scott, Chief of Staff of the Glynn County Police Department. Glynn County assistant coroner Chris Stewart confirmed the pilot died in the crash. After identifying next of kin, police on Sunday identified the deceased pilot as 80-year-old Roger Crane of Bluffton, S.C.

The Glynn County Fire Department responded to a 9:25 a.m. call Saturday of a possible airplane crash in the woods off Sinclair Plantation Road, a thoroughfare that is gated at Lawrence Road and leads to the Oatland Plantation estate.

“Firefighters arrived on scene, they found an area of the woods that was heavily taken over by fire,” Scott said during a press conference Saturday afternoon near the scene of the crash. “Once they had that fire put out, they were able to confirm that a plane did indeed crash.”

Earlier reports out of Savannah indicated the pilot had passengers onboard the four-seater aircraft, but officials at the scene of the crash said the pilot was the lone occupant. “Although plane is designed for four passengers, we have no reason to believe anyone else was present on the plane other than the pilot,” Scott said.

The large scraps of metal from the wreckage were scattered throughout a patch of charred palmetto scrub, pine and oak that stretched about 30 yards across. The crash site was in the woods on the south side of Lawrence Road, a ¼ mile east of Lawrence Road.

On the northern outskirts of the burnt patch of woods, a thick oak tree trunk was snapped off about 20 yards up, the only indication of the plane’s descent into the heavily-wooded area. There appeared to be a deep indentation in the ground at the center of the wreckage.

The cause of the crash has not been determined, however, officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have been notified and were in route to the crash Saturday afternoon, Scott said.

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