North Myrtle Beach, SC - NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board said a Piper PA-28 plane didn't make a distress call before it crashed into a North Myrtle Beach mobile home Wednesday night, killing three people.
Emergency officials were dispatched to the Creekside Mobile Home Park off of Little River Neck Road shortly before 9 p.m. Wednesday. Multiple 911 calls were made around 8:50 p.m. in reference to the crash, according to North Myrtle Beach spokeswoman Nicole Aiello.
Witnesses reported hearing multiple explosions before hearing the plane hit the ground.
"We saw the plane and everything," said Joshua Randall, who lives in the area and witnessed the crash. "It was circling around, then it came in a big loop and went down and hit the trailer."
Aiello said the plane appeared to have hit in front of a mobile home and slid into it, setting the home ablaze. Witnesses said they saw people running out of the home after the plane hit, although authorities have not confirmed that anyone was inside at the time of the crash.
North Myrtle Beach officials said flight records indicated three people were onboard the plane when it crashed into the mobile home, killing all of its occupants.
Horry County Coroner Robert Edge later confirmed the identities of the three victims as Danny Carroll, 54, his wife, Raychel, 66, and their granddaughter, Mallory Fields, 4. Edge said all three victims died from massive trauma.
Bob Gretz, a senior NTSB air safety investigator, said the Piper PA-28 plane was rented from the Concord Regional Airport by Danny Carroll. The victims, according to Gretz, were in the process of returning to Concord from a short vacation along the Grand Strand at the time of the accident.
Gretz confirmed Thursday afternoon the Piper PA-28 involved in the accident was the first plane of its kind that Danny Carroll had flown.
FAA records show the plane was registered to Robert O'Neale III of 8405 Bampton Drive in Concord, NC. The plane was manufactured in 1979, according to the FAA.
As investigators continue to sort through the wreckage left behind from Wednesday night's tragic crash, Gretz said the NTSB will be analyzing three main areas in the crash. The areas include the pilot and his training, the plane and the environment at the time of the crash.
"A good majority of the wreckage has been consumed by fire and is underneath a mobile home," he described. "We're currently in the process of waiting for an aircraft recovery company to come help us move [the plane]. It's always challenging when there's a post-crash fire and you lose evidence."
The investigator added in coming days, the NTSB will take a closer look at pilot training, maintenance records and weather data.
"At this stage in the investigation, we're doing the on-scene fact finding stage and documenting evidence," Gretz commented.
Officials commented neither a cockpit voice recorder or flight data recorder were present on the plane at the time of the accident. However, Gretz said the plane could have been equipped with a memory chip that would have gathered some tracking information. The chip could be a valuable piece of evidence if it remained untouched by the post-impact fire.
Air traffic control information revealed the Piper PA-28 reached an altitude of 700 feet moments after taking off at the Grand Strand Regional Airport Wednesday night. Danny Carroll, according to investigators, acknowledged a command to climb to 6,000 feet.
After the command, air traffic control reported no further communication with the plane before it dropped off of the radar. The NTSB reported no emergency or distress calls were made by the plane in the moments leading up to the crash.
"The altitude the airplane was at wouldn't be considered the initial climb immediately after takeoff," Gretz said when describing the altitude the plane is believed to have reached. "It would be more of a 'cruise climb' beyond take off."
Three others were injured in connection to the crash and were sent to a nearby hospital with minor injuries Wednesday night. Officials report the injuries ranged from burns to smoke inhalation. According to North Myrtle Beach Public Safety, one of its officers was also taken to the Grand Strand Regional Medical Center for smoke inhalation and later released.
The mobile home occupants' dog also died in the accident, officials noted.
Officials with the American Red Cross are in the process of assisting two families living in homes affected by the plane crash. The mobile home on Toucan Drive in which the plane crashed into was completely destroyed, leaving three adults homeless.
For more information about helping the family e-mail us at email@example.com.
A second severely damaged home has left one adult and one child homeless.
The NTSB and FAA expect to continue their crash investigation over the next few days. Officials expect to release a preliminary crash report in 10 days, in addition to a detailed report in six months. After six months, the reports will move on to an official safety board and a factual report will be released.