A Georgia man was running and listening to his iPod on the beach on Hilton Head Island when he was killed by an airplane that made an emergency landing Monday near Palmetto Dunes, the Beaufort County Coroner's Office said today.
The victim was identified as Robert Gary Jones, 38, of Woodstock, Ga. Authorities say he probably did not see or hear the plane coming down because it had no power.
The single-engine airplane made an emergency landing near Palmetto Dunes at about 6:10 p.m. Monday.
The plane experienced engine trouble over the water about an hour and a half after leaving Orlando Executive Airport in Florida, bound for Norfolk, Va.
The aircraft was flying at about 13,000 feet when air traffic controllers told the pilot to land at Hilton Head Island Airport.
But before the male pilot and his male passenger reached the island, oil began to leak onto the windshield, blocking their vision, said Joheida Fister, Hilton Head Island Fire and Rescue Division spokeswoman.
The plane's propeller came off. The men decided to make an emergency landing on the beach, she said.
The men in the plane were not injured.
The plane "a fixed-wing Lancair IV-P" is registered to Edward Smith of Chesapeake, Va., according to the Federal Aviation Administration, but it is not clear if he was aboard the plane Monday. A woman who answered the phone of an Edward Smith in Chesapeake declined to answer questions Monday night.
The men were taken from the scene to the Sheriff's Office, and arrangements were to have been made for them to stay in the area to speak to investigators, Fister said.
Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the FAA's Atlanta regional office, said the pilot reported a problem with the aircraft to an air traffic facility in Hilliard, Fla. Air traffic controllers handed the pilot off to the Marine Corps Approach Control Center in Beaufort, where he was directed to land at Hilton Head Island Airport, according to Bergen.
The landing occurred north of the Hilton Head Marriott Resort and Spa at Palmetto Dunes near Armada Street, about three miles from the island's airport.
Flight records show the plane left Orlando Executive Airport at 4:45 p.m. and was to arrive at Hampton Roads Executive Airport at 7:38 p.m. The plane flew from Hampton Roads to Orlando Executive early Monday morning, departing at 6:55 a.m. and arriving in Florida at about 9:30 a.m.
Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA were expected to have arrived at the scene Monday night. The NTSB will lead the investigation and determine the probable cause of the crash, Bergen said.
Patrick Murphy, manager of the Dunes House, a beachside bar and restaurant, was working at the time of the crash. "It was obvious that the engine had gone out because there was no sound " it was like a glider," he said. "It was awful. A bunch of us called 911, and the fire department was here within five minutes."