Two people died after their plane crashed near the town of Climax, Ga., on Monday, Nov. 9, according to the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office.
Area law enforcement had been searching for the plane after it disappeared from flight-tracking radar late Monday morning. The plane, a Cessna, was reportedly traveling from Lakeland, Fla., to Cairo, Ga., a distance of 238 miles by air.
See Also: Two dead after plane crashes in Decatur County (Sowegalive)
Initially, the search for the missing plane was focused near the Metcalfe community in southern Thomas County (see below article from the Thomasville, Ga., newspaper). However, at some point officials with Tyndall Air Force Base redirected the search to eastern Decatur County, where Sheriff’s deputies located the plane at about 3:50 p.m., according to Undersheriff Wendell Cofer. The Civil Air Patrol was also involved in the search.
The crash site was on private property near the intersection of Old Whigham Road and Salem Church Road, approximately 2 miles north of Climax. Sheriff Wiley Griffin said the downed plane was located in a remote wooded area.
Neither of the plane’s two occupants survived the crash. The Sheriff’s Office has not officially identified the plane or the victims, Sheriff Griffin said Tuesday morning. However, WALB-TV is reporting that the victims were identified as Gene Odom, an attorney from Brandon, Florida and former WFLA news chopper pilot Lester Hathcox. The plane, a Cessna 441 turbo prop, was registered to Legal Airways, LLC, in Brandon, Florida.
Undersheriff Cofer said it wasn’t immediately known what caused the crash or how the plane wound up further west of its intended destination of Cairo. Cofer said crash investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) would visit the crash site on Tuesday.
“Our role was to secure the crash scene and hold it for them until they arrive,” Cofer said.
In addition to several Sheriff’s deputies, firefighters from Decatur County Fire and Rescue also responded to the crash site.
Heavy rain storms moved across N. Florida and Southwest Georgia on Monday morning, and there was limited flying visibility, according to the Georgia State Patrol, which was unable to send up a GSP helicopter to aid in the search for that reason. However, it’s not yet known if weather played a factor in the crash.
The following information was originally reported by The Thomasville Times-Enterprise on its website:
A search is under way in the Metcalfe area in south Thomas County for a private plane that disappeared from radar late Monday morning.
The Cessna, en route from Lakeland, Florida, to Cairo, was lost on radar at about 2,500 feet, said Capt. Steven Jones, Thomas County Sheriff’s Office public information officer.
The sheriff’s office was notified by personnel at Tyndall Air Force Base at Panama City, Florida. Sheriff’s officers are communicating with Cairo and Tallahassee, Florida, airports.
Jones did not know how many people were on the plane, which was lost on radar between Cairo and Tallahassee in the Metcalfe area.
Teaming with plantation owners and superintendents, the search encompasses a radius of Metcalfe.
Jones said the area has few paved roads, and dirt roads are damaged from heavy rainfall Sunday and today.