UPDATE: NTSB probes crash that killed dentist, lawyer, chaplain and teen
The radar track of a 1965 Piper PA-32 became “erratic” and radar and voice communications were lost Sunday before the aircraft crashed in Barren County, killing all four people aboard.
“I have a large team assembled here and several experts working off site on everything from weather data to air traffic control radar data,” said Brian Rayner, senior air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, during a press briefing Monday near the crash site in the southern part of the county.
Rayner said initial information indicates the plane left Union City, Tenn., en route to Somerset and was receiving air traffic control services known as “flight following.”
“So he was in contact with air traffic control and they had radar contact with the airplane,” Rayner said. “The preliminary voice and radar data that we have right now suggests that the pilot went from visual conditions, entered the clouds and could only reference his flight instruments to fly at that point. The radar data shows that the radar track at that point became erratic and the altitudes ranged from 2,000 feet to 7,000 feet before radar and voice communications were lost,” he said.
Kentucky State Police identified the deceased as Scott T. Foster, 41, and his son, Noah Foster, 15, both of Science Hill, and Kyle P. Stewart, 41, and Quinton “Doug” Whitaker, 40, both of Somerset.
All but Noah Foster were pronounced dead at the scene near Bewleytown Road in a remote area near Fountain Run.
Noah Foster was taken by ambulance to The Medical Center at Bowling Green, where he was pronounced dead, Warren County Coroner Kevin Kirby said.
The aircraft was registered to Scott and Amy Foster, according to the Federal Aviation Administration aircraft registry website.
Rayner did not release the name of the plane’s pilot. Investigators will be researching to see if anyone else on board had a pilot’s license.
“At this time there is one pilot that has been identified,” Rayner said.
A pilot logbook associated with that pilot name was found by a resident in the area where the plane crashed.
“It’s intact so we’ll be able to review it very carefully and closely,” Rayner said.
Components of the aircraft were found as far as a mile from the crash site, he said.
“Those parts were documented as far as their location and photographs were taken, and those parts were then reunited with the remainder of the wreckage,” Rayner said. “I have airframe experts with me, an engine expert. I have representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration. We’re doing an on-scene examination of the wreckage, and then we’re going to move it to a secure facility and do a more detailed examination (Tuesday).
“The investigation itself is divided basically into three parts. We’re going to look at the man, the machine and the environment.”
Rayner said the review of the pilot will examine his credentials, the certificates he held and the types of privileges those certificates allowed, his total experience and his training. If necessary, the pilot’s medical background and reports received from the medical examiner and the FAA toxicology laboratory in Oklahoma City will be factored in as well.
“The machine we’ll look at here and again (Tuesday) in a more detailed fashion,” Rayner said. “If we have to harvest components for a more detailed examination at our lab or at another facility, we’ll do that. We’ll also review the maintenance records for the airplane. …
“The environment includes the physical environment, the weather and the air traffic environment. The physical environment we can examine of course. But the weather data is all archived. We have a staff meteorologist looking at the weather at the time, and we also have a staff air traffic control specialist reviewing radar and voice communications data.
Once all of the experts complete their work, reports will be given to Rayner, who will then present a full report to the five-member NTSB.
“They review the report and all the evidence, determine probable cause of the accident and they publish that in a report that’s either described as a brief report or an analysis report and that whole process typically takes a year but sometimes quite a bit longer … ,” Rayner said. “We’re confident that we’re going to be able to develop enough information … that the board will be able to determine a probable cause of this terrible tragedy.”
Scott Foster was a well-known attorney in Somerset. He and his son, Noah, along with Stewart and Whitaker, left Somerset on Friday to go hunting, according to Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler. Scott Foster is survived by two daughters and a wife. He was heavily involved in downtown development.
Stewart, a dentist, was a religious man who donated his skills and time to dental outreach in other countries, Girdler said. He is survived by a daughter.
Whitaker, also an attorney, was the Somerset Police Department chaplain, Girdler said.
Girdler ordered all city flags lowered to half staff Monday.
“It’s just a horrible event to happen on a weekend when they went to enjoy themselves on a little hunting” trip, Girdler said. “All of the three adults and the 15 year old were outstanding individuals in our community.”
Whitaker always smiled and was friendly, Girdler said. He is survived by a wife and three small children.
“As a chaplain, he’s always been there for us anytime we had a major incident. I would consider him a top counselor. He is going to be a tremendous loss for us in this city … ,” Girdler said. “They were just in their prime in terms of our community and investing in our community. It will be a great void in trying to fill the community involvement they had.”
Two other people went with the men to hunt, but they chose to drive, Girdler said.
“We will put up some type of memorial that will be fitting for them in the next couple of months. We are doing everything we can to honor their lives and recognize the loss that our community has had,” he said.
A small plane in Glasgow, Kentucky crashed Sunday afternoon, killing four passengers.
In Barren County, KY, a plane crashed at approximately 2:21pm. The Federal Aviation Administration released in a statement today that the Piper PA32 crashed in south central Kentucky as it was heading to the Lake Cumberland Regional Airport in Somerset, KY.
According to State Trooper Jeremy Hodges, three people were announced dead at the scene while the fourth victim died at a hospital in Bowling Green, KY. It is unclear where the plane was departing from.
According to National Transportation Safety board spokesman Terry Williams, the NTS will arrive at the scene on Monday for further investigation.
According to the NTS, 2015 experienced 415 deaths as a result of an aviation crash. These accidents can occur for a wide variety of reason such as human error, inclement weather, and wild life interference. 2015 is the last year statistics are available.
This tragedy comes less than a week after former professional baseball player Roy Halladay died in a small plane he was piloting.
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March 12, 2012
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This is happening more frequently and there should be an investigation
I now of the problems and figuring out what the problem is, the hostin
I don't know if it's just me or if perhaps everybody else encountering
Paul Blankenship · Top Commenter · School of Hard Knocks Mr. Shelton