Investigators and neighbors speak about Sunday's plane crash in Barren County
Kentucky State Police, National Transportation Safety Board, Federal Aviation Administration and local Emergency Management Crews have all responded to a fatal plane crash that happened Sunday afternoon in Barren County.
"I couldn't believe it with my own two eyes. I just happened to look up and see it in a nose dive going down. I was in shock." says Chad Rusell, who was hunting with his 11-year-old daughter on a property off Capitol Hill Church Road in Fountain Run, Kentucky.
"I couldn't see it (the plane) any more once it got into the tree tops. I lost it once it got into the trees," he says, adding, "I was scared. I was terrified."
He goes on to say, "I called on my cell phone to my mother up the road and she called 9-1-1. I kept losing phone signal back there where I was at."
Rusell was able to help lead emergency crews back to the crash site along with neighbors familiar with the property.
"It's my brother's land. I'm on it about every other day," says Ricky Harwood, who we met up with at the property's fence.
When we asked him about Sunday's plane crash, Harwood said, "I didn't know really what it was. I heard a plane up in the sky earlier but I never thought about it going down, crashing."
"Tragically there were four fatalities. There were four people on board and all four were fatally injured," says Brian Rayner, Senior Air Safety Investigator with National Transportation Safety Board.
According to officials, those four people have been identified as Dr. Kyle Stewart, Doug Whitaker, Scott Foster, and his fifteen-year-old son, Noah Foster, who friends say were returning to Somerset from a hunting trip in Tennessee.
"I couldn't believe it really. The way it looked. I mean, I wouldn't want to see it again," says Harwood.
Crew arrived on scene Sunday, staying until dark, and resuming again Monday morning.
"The preliminary information that we have at this time is that the airplane was flying VFR from Union City, Tennessee to Somerset, Kentucky," says Rayner.
Rayner says the plane was a Piper PA-32.
Access to the crash site is limited as crews are navigating narrow trails and bumpy hills through the woods.
Four-wheelers and trucks are taking officials back to the scene, while federal investigators arrive to try and determine what caused the crash.
According to investigators the pilot was in contact with air traffic control.
"The airplane ultimately was lost from the radar scope, communications were lost and the airplane and most of the associated parts were found in the woods behind me," says Rayner, pointing over his shoulder.
He goes on to describe what he does know at this point, "The preliminary radar information that we have at this time illustrates a rather erratic flight path and altitude variations between 2,000 and 7,000 feet."
"Several pieces associated with flight control services of the airplane were found as far as a mile away from the main wreckage," Rayner adds.
As officials work together on this case several factors are being discussed.
"We're looking at the man, the machine, and the environment," says Rayner.
Officials say the next step is taking the pieces of the aircraft to Springfield, Tennessee where they'll continue investigating and trying to determine a cause.
According to Rayner, "Every accident is different, and depending on the complexity of the investigation, the number of people involved, will determine how long it takes (to determine and release a cause of the crash)."
Rayner says the process typically takes one year but it can sometimes take "considerably longer" due to timelines of other cases he's currently working, and any future assignments that will interfere with the process of this particular scene.