A man jumped or fell from a plane Friday before landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina.
The plane crashed during an emergency landing due to problems with the landing gear, WRAL reported.
The body of the 23-year-old copilot was eventually found that evening after a house search in a neighbor’s backyard in Fuquay-Varina.
Charles Hew Crooks did not survive, officials said. When Crooks jumped or fell from the plane, he was reportedly not to wear a parachute.
Charles Hew Crooks, 23, was a copilot on a plane yesterday when it lost part of its landing gear.
When the pilot landed on RDU, Crooks jumped or fell from the plane without a parachute. He didn’t survive.
— Keenan Willard (@KeenanWRAL) July 30, 2022
The plane was a ten-seat aircraft, but there were only two people on board and after landing, only the pilot was on board.
Video footage showed the plane approaching the airport runway as a helicopter hovered nearby. The plane appeared to tilt to one side after landing:
The surviving pilot was transported to a hospital with minor injuries and later released.
WRAL received audio from the pilot who spoke to air traffic control and asked for assistance.
“Emergency, we have lost our right wheel,” the pilot explained, adding: “We would like to speak to Raleigh and make an emergency landing at Raleigh.”
‘So I do not know. I mean, we can’t handle it right now,” Hew Crooks, Charles Hew Crooks’ father, told NBC News of the devastating loss.
The family is waiting for investigators to determine what led to the tragic incident:
“We’re a strong family and we’re a very loving family, but this just leaves a gap that we just don’t know how we’ll ever fill,” Crooks’ father added.
The airfield at the airport was temporarily shut down until officials secured the area.
Meanwhile, a resident in the area where Crooks’ body was found told TBEN 11 that he felt terrible for the young man’s family:
“I don’t know if we’ll ever really know, but it’s just crazy… the sadness about it, isn’t it? Whether it’s a 23-year-old man. He probably woke up that day, had breakfast and was ready to fly a plane,” he said.