A small single-engine plane crashed in southwest Cullman County Monday afternoon, killing both the pilot and a single passenger. There were no survivors. No one on the ground was injured.
The plane, identified as a Mooney M20 single-propeller aircraft, went down in a pasture belonging to Philip Harbison on the north side of County Road 174, less than a mile from a residential area fronting Smith Lake. The point of the plane’s impact missed the road by only a few feet. Debris from the wreckage spread out in a track northward for 80 yards from the initial impact zone.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reports Monday indicated the aircraft, en route from Destin, Fla. to Gallatin, Tenn., was passing over Cullman County and had not taken off from the Cullman airport.
Sheriff Mike Rainey said late Monday that weather observers out of Cullman confirmed that severe weather was present in the area shortly before 2:30 p.m., when the crash had occurred. No official confirmed Monday whether weather played a role in causing the crash. Officers and emergency crews working the scene did so through the afternoon as torrential rains swept through southern Cullman County.
Although County Road 174 remains open to local traffic, Rainey said the FAA had requested the site of the crash be kept secure overnight Monday. FAA investigators arrived at the scene about two hours after the crash; an official with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is expected to visit today.
“The FAA sent people out of Huntsville to the scene, and they were there when the bodies were removed from the wreckage,” said Rainey. “They are not releasing the names of the victims at this time. They are continuing the investigation tomorrow [Tuesday]. We’re going to be working security there through the night. The road is open for those who live there, but the crash site will be lit up and secure, and we will have deputies stationed there. The Cullman Rescue Squad is bringing their trailer, with a generator, which the FAA requested.”
Including Monday’s two victims, small aircraft accidents have resulted in five fatalities in North Alabama since Saturday. A pilot died in a Saturday crash in Cherokee County, and two others were killed in a separate crash Sunday at a Madison County airport during a fly-in event for aviation enthusiasts.
* Benjamin Bullard can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 734-2131 ext. 270.
Below is a video of the scene of the crash: