2 dead, 1 seriously injured after plane crashes into Cumberland County home

Cumberland County News

HOPE MILLS, N.C. (WNCN) – Two people are dead after a plane crashed into a home just outside Hope Mills late Thursday, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol said.

The plane’s pilot and a person inside the home were killed when the Beechcraft Baron slammed into the home around 11 p.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Neighbors later identified the pilot as Bill Merritt.

Another person who was inside the home was transported to the hospital with serious injuries.

READ MORE: ‘The engine was struggling, then it nosedived’: 911 calls shed light on deadly plane crash in Hope Mills

The identities of the person killed in the home and the person injured have not been released. The FAA said they will release the twin-engine aircraft’s tail number once officials identify the deceased and injured.

Crews weren’t able to remove the victims’ bodies until shortly before 1 p.m. Friday.

A neighbor told CBS 17 that a couple and their three dogs lived in the home. There’s no word on the dogs.

Robert Gertz with the National Transportation Safety Board said the pilot was doing takeoffs and landings. He said the pilot reported a control problem shortly before the wreck.

Cotton Fire Department’s fire chief told CBS 17 the plane came through the bedroom when it made impact.

“Once it’s recovered, we’ll be able to take a closer look at it,” Gretz said. He added that the preliminary report will be made available in about 10 business days. The final report usually comes out a year later.

The site of the crash is approximately three miles south-southwest of the airport and just 1,500 feet from Interstate-95.

One woman who lives on the next street over spoke to CBS 17 about the crash.

“When I woke up and turned the news on, I heard about it and I was really concerned because I have friends who live on this street and I didn’t know if it was them,” said Star Leone.

Her friends were OK. Leone said although she’s glad they’re safe, the crash is still tragic.

“It’s real heartbreaking. We always hear planes and helicopters flying over because the airport is like three miles away and, so you know, it just hurts my soul. It’s sad. It could have been anybody,” she said.

Another neighbor told CBS 17 that they heard what sounded like a loud noise coming from the plane and that the noise continued to get louder and louder until they suddenly heard the crash.

The FAA is investigating. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are expected to arrive Friday morning and will determine the probable cause of the crash, according to FAA officials.

CBS 17 has a crew at the scene and will update this story as it develops.

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