Plane crash near Batesville
A single engine plane has crashed into a field on Plank Road, a mile west of Route 29S. According to an Albemarle County press release, rescue officials were called at 11:30am and discovered the plane "fully engulfed in flames." There is no information on the plane's make or on passengers at this time. A Hook reporter is headed to the scene, details to come.
The plane crashed into a tree-filled ravine about 200 yards off Plank Road in a field adjacent to Bundoran Farm, the family home of Fred Scott. That property made news in 2005 as it was purchased by New Hampshire-based ecodevelopment firm, Qroe Farm Preservation Development, for a reported $30.8 million, a deal that closed in January 2006. Two adult male passengers have reportedly perished in the crash, however according to Albemarle County spokesperson Lee Catlin, names are being withheld pending notification of out-of-state family members. There is also no official word as to the plane's flight plan or whether it was attempting to come down on a landing strip reportedly situated somewhere on the Bundoran property. According to officials on the scene, one witness reported hearing a "sputtering" plane engine sometime before 11:30am.
Fire and rescue personnel have begun the process of recovering the bodies, which will be transported to UVA medical center for forensic identification.
"Right now we're workiing on getting notification to the families," says State Police Sgt. Gregory Miller, declining to provide additional details.
Susan Payne of Payne Ross and Associates, the PR firm that worked with Scott and Qroe through the sale, is at the scene of the crash, but decines to reveal the identity of the victims. A source at Qroe says the company has "a gentleman down there all the time," but hasn't heard any report of a plane crash on the property.
Catlin says that officials with the NTSB will arrive for a preliminary inspection this afternoon and take over the investigation from the State Police. She says that release of the dead men's names won't happen until tomorrow at the earliest.
The crash occurred four tenths of a mile east of a small private landing strip on the Bundoran property. A young man in the yard of a house in front of the strip's orange wind sock said he was not at liberty to provide any information.
5:30pm update: This is the first fatal plane crash in Albemarle since July 1989 when a mechanical function shut down the engine of a Beech in a crash that killed a lone pilot near the Charlottesville airport. The previous fatal occured in February 1984, when, the NTSB reports, an overstressed wing became loose. The NTSB blamed the pilot in that crash that killed a family of four and left wreckage strewn acros the median of Interstate 64.
6:35 update: New updates posted here.