NTSB: No distress call before crash killed Nashville doctor - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports


NTSB: No distress call before crash killed Nashville doctor


The NTSB said Friday they have recovered voice communications and radar data from a Georgia plane crash that killed a Nashville doctor and four others Wednesday night.

Officials said they are analyzing voice communication between pilot and air traffic controllers, but there were no distress calls or unusual communication before the crash.

Investigators found the wings, nose and tail of the airplane, indicating it was intact prior to striking a 60-foot utility pole, said officials.

Surveillance video of the crash is being sent to the NTSB office in Washington, D.C. for further analysis.  They said the video doesn't clearly show if the plane ever touched down before hitting the pole.

The NTSB has interviewed five witnesses and will compare their information with data they've recovered. 

Dr. Steven Roth was among those killed in the crash, according to Dr. Stephen Davis, a plastic surgeon and partner in The Vein Guys. Four other office staffers, including Lisa Valpitto - a nurse anesthetist - Tiffany Porter, Kim Davidson and Heidi Blank were also killed.

The small plane aborted its landing at the Thomson-McDuffie County Airport, about 30 miles west of Augusta, before it hit the 60-foot utility pole and crashed, killing five people onboard and leaving two hurt, federal authorities said Thursday.

National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt said at a news conference Thursday afternoon that the plane burst into flames after crashing. One of the plane's wings was cut off when it hit the pole, causing the plane to leak fuel that then ignited, he said. The plane is almost completely destroyed.

"You walk up and you say to yourself, 'Where is the airplane?"' Sumwalt said.

Thomson-McDuffie County Sheriff Logan Marshall says the jet crashed around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.

A co-pilot and a passenger survived the initial crash. One person is still hospitalized at a Augusta, GA hospital.

The Vein Guys have offices in Nashville and Augusta and specialize in varicose vein surgery. Davis said the jet was returning to Augusta after work at the Nashville office.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokesman John Bankhead said the bodies have been taken to a lab in Decatur, GA, outside Atlanta, for autopsies.

The flight departed from the John C. Tune Airport in Nashville just before 6:30 p.m., according to FlightAware.

Davis said his brother Dr. Keith Davis and Roth co-founded the clinic in Augusta. He described Roth as "a great guy, a great doctor, devoted to patients and his family."

Assistant County Fire Chief Stephen Sewell told the Augusta Chronicle that the two survivors were a pilot and a passenger. But he provided no additional information about those aboard.

A brush fire flared near the crash scene, in woods behind an industrial plant about a half-mile from the airport. Witnesses reported power outages that prompted a utility to send workers to the site.

The crash site was on the opposite side of a state highway from where the runway ends.

Patricia Reese and her husband live in a farmhouse near the site. She said Thursday they were watching TV on Wednesday night when they were startled by noise and a power outage.

"The lights blinked and went off, and all of a sudden we heard this noise," Reece said. "It sounded like thunder that just kept going on and on."

Reece's husband grabbed a flashlight and they headed into the pitch-dark field behind their home. They soon saw flashing lights from emergency vehicles and thick smoke pouring from the woods, she said.

A statement posted Thursday to The Vein Guys' Facebook page said:

"Thank you so much for all of your sweet thoughts and prayers!! Please do continue to pray for us all, we need it so much right now!!! Blessings From The Vein Guys"

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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