Eight people, including four teenagers, who were on a duck hunting trip were killed in a small plane crash on Sunday off the North Carolina coast.
One body has been recovered from the area and there’s ‘no indication any of the people onboard survived the crash,’ the Carteret County Sheriff confirmed Monday afternoon.
Recovery efforts continued after the Pilatus PC-12 aeroplane went down four miles east of Drum Inlet. Before it disappeared, the single-engine aircraft was spotted on radar ‘behaving erratically,’ the US Coast Guard said.
Among its occupants was a group of high school friends and entrepreneur Hunter Parks.
On the day before the crash, Parks hosted a wildfowl hunting expedition on his Lake Mattamuskeet-area property for veterans and youth in keeping with an annual tradition.
He was joined by his girlfriend Stephanie Fulcher, her son Kole McInnis, and three of his teenage friends.
Shortly before the plane took off, Fulcher shared photos on Facebook of the teens settled onto the aircraft, munching on McDonalds meals and gazing tiredly toward the camera as they prepared to return to their Down East homes.
Fulcher captioned the snaps she shared Sunday by writing: ‘Blessed to have a successful Youth/Veteran duck hunt again this year!’
Tom Harrison, who is friends and business partners with Parks, described him as an accomplished fisherman and the longtime managing partner of Mattamuskeet Ventures.
‘Whatever he did, he poured himself into it,’ Harrison told DailyMail.com. ‘He was extremely kind and generous and wanted everybody to be happy. He was a problem solver, an intermediary, and just a great partner, a great friend, and a great guy.’
Parks hosted an annual duck hunting retreat on his property Saturday, as he did every year for children and veterans.
‘It’s a way of giving back to veterans and a way of preserving our heritage with young men and being positive role models, and getting them outside and disconnecting them from electronics,’ he said. ‘Giving them an experience out in nature.’
The teens are believed to be students at East Carteret High School. They’ve been identified by friends and family as Kole McInnis, Jake Taylor, Dailey Shepherd, and Noah Styron.
Carteret County Public Schools spokeswoman Jennifer Johnson said the district was still awaiting word from the US Coast Guard before releasing information.
‘We are incredibly saddened and join with the Down East and Eastern North Carolina community as we await official word on the aeroplane crash off the coast of Drum Inlet, North Carolina,’ said a statement from the district. ‘Crisis teams are on school campuses to support students, staff and families.’
The pilot and an eighth passenger on the plane have not yet been identified.
Union Point Church Pastor Aaron Golden, who lives in a neighbouring county, led the community in mourning through a Facebook post.
‘I know all Down East is in mourning,’ Golden said. ‘Down East is such a tight knit community it has such a deep heritage and all of those on that plane yesterday really represented that for the Down East community.’
Coast Guard boats, as well as an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter military aircrew, launched a search of the area Sunday to find the single-engine aircraft and on Monday added a Coast Guard C-130 fixed-wing aircraft to assist efforts.
Although it can be challenging to recover downed aircrafts in bodies of water, a spokesman said he’s optimistic crews will be able to locate the missing plane.
‘It can be very difficult, but we’re well equipped to provide adequate search efforts, especially since we have so many partner agencies working with us,’ spokesman Edward Wargo told DailyMail.com. ‘This is something the Coast Guard trains for, and we’ve experienced this before.’
Source: Daily Mail