3 killed in Rutherford County plane crash, EMS says

RUTHERFORD COUNTY, N.C. — Poor weather conditions are what likely caused a small plane to crash Monday morning near the McDowell-Rutherford county line, killing three people onboard, said officials with Airstar Aviation, the owner of the Cessna 182.

“Despite the overall unfavorable weather conditions in the area, reports indicated clear conditions at the time of takeoff,” Airstar Aviation officials said in a news release. “Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with the families and friends of those who lost their lives in this tragic incident. It is believed that the aircraft went down due to poor weather conditions at approximately 8:57 p.m. in McDowell County.”

Deputies said the aircraft crashed in a rural area south of Nebo along Brackett Town Road near Vein Mountain Road.

The North Carolina State Highway Patrol identified the three victims as pilot Adam Plummer and passengers Scott George and Charles Mather Jr. All three were from South Carolina, they said.

According to the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office, the small plane with the tail number 2198G took off around 8 p.m. Sunday from an airport in Mountain City, Tennessee, and was enroute to one in Rutherfordton, North Carolina. It wasn’t until around 6 a.m. Monday that authorities learned something was wrong.

The Mountain City airport said someone called from the FAA saying the plane hadn’t arrived in Rutherfordton and asked the people in Tennessee if it had circled back to their airport.

Later, first responders from both McDowell and Rutherford counties rushed to locate the missing plane. After they found the crash site, crews started search and rescue efforts.

Drivers were asked to avoid the Brackett Town Road area to make way for first responders. More than a dozen first responders were called to the crash site. Channel 9′s Dave Faherty could see four-wheelers being brought to the scene to help with the search.

Investigators haven’t said what caused the crash but when Faherty first arrived at the scene, there was a lot of fog and cloud cover in the area.

One woman described seeing a plane flying late Sunday night near where it went down.

“And we watched it and it went right, left, straight, and back and back again, and I told my sister about it and I said ‘this is unreal,’” Melinda Hester said.

A worker at the airport in Mountain City said the plane was used for skydiving. On FlightAware, it shows the plane, which was built in 1957, taking off from the airport in Tennessee five times on Sunday. The weather Monday morning made it challenging for first responders responding to the crash scene.

The plane was leased to Skydive Carolina, said Airstar Aviation officials. It had been contracted for jump operations on Sunday at Skydive Mountain City and there were not any incidents.

The aircraft was not involved with jump operations when the accident happened.

“6 a.m. this morning is when we received the call of the overdue aircraft,” said McDowell Emergency Services Director Will Kehler. “It was heavy fog. It somewhat hindered our efforts because we were unable to use any type of drone.”

There were no reports of any engine problems at the airport in Mountain City. The sheriff in McDowell County said family members arrived at the crash site shortly before lunchtime.

“Terrible tragedy,” Sheriff Ricky Buchanan said. “Our thoughts and prayers are definitely with all the families and those involved. And also the workers.”

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were expected to arrive in Rutherford County on Tuesday morning.

Airstar Aviation officials said they are cooperating with investigators.

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