A North Carolina pilot died Friday afternoon under mysterious circumstances, officials said.
Charles Hew Crooks, 23, was one of two people aboard the small 10-seater plane Friday, but it landed with just one person in Wake County, North Carolina, WRAL reported.
According to the authorities, the crooks jumped or fell in the air without a parachute from the plane.
According to the report, the surviving copilot made a safe emergency landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport after reporting to air traffic control that the plane had lost its right wheel and was taken to hospital with minor injuries.
Dozens of first responders were at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport and several other officers searched the area and the flight path of the plane looking for Crooks’ body.
His body was found later that evening, around 7 p.m., in the woods behind a residential area in Fuquay-Varina, about 30 miles from Raleigh-Durham International Airport, authorities said.
Police later said the body landed about 30 to 40 feet from a house and residents alerted law enforcement officers who searched the area.
Darshan Patel, chief of operations for Wake County Emergency Management, told a group of reporters that residents had contacted law enforcement after they “heard something in their backyard.”
At a press conference that night, Fuquay-Varina Police Chief Brandon Medina said the thugs’ bodies fell at least 3,500 feet. He said it was not immediately clear whether the pilot was dead before the fall, but authorities are continuing to investigate the incident.
Chief Medina did not say whether the investigation is being treated as a criminal investigation, only that the situation was “unique”.
“I believe this was a first for many of us working on this incident today,” added Patel.
Crooks recently received his pilot’s license and loved flying, his family said, WRAL reported.
When asked about the death, Hew Crooks, the deceased pilot’s father, said, “We can’t handle it right now, I don’t know.”
“He pursued his private pilot’s license while in college. I think he got that when he was a sophomore,” Crooks added. “He said a few weeks ago that he wouldn’t trade with anyone in the world. He loved where he was.”
About the mysterious details surrounding the death, the father said he “cannot imagine what happened”.
“We’ll work it out, I guess,” he concluded.
The surviving copilot was released from hospital after being treated for minor injuries, WRAL reported.
The police chief said investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are leading the investigation. Federal, state and local authorities are assisting with the investigation.