Details still scarce in Tuscaloosa plane crash investigation

The National Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate a plane crash that killed six, including the pilot, near Tuscaloosa Regional Airport in Alabama on Aug 14.

“The NTSB is in charge of the investigation and will release all information about the accident,” Kathleen Bergen, public affairs contact for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Southern Region Office, told AMI Newswire.  

Thus far, the NTSB has released few details. “It’s an ongoing investigation,” Keith Holloway, media relations specialist at the NTSB, told AMI Newswire. “Everything is still on the table. It’s still early in the investigation, so we are still looking into everything.”

Heidi Kenmer, the NTSB safety investigator in charge of the case, gave a press briefing from the sheriff’s hangar at Tuscaloosa Regional Airport on Monday.  According to her statement, the Piper PA-31 aircraft crashed about a quarter mile from the airport. There were six people on board and all were fatally injured.

Holloway said that the NTSB does not release victim names. Bergen also did not confirm the names of the victims and recommended contacting local authorities for that information.

Sgt. Alex Miles, public information officer of the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, told AMI Newswire that the Sheriff’s office was not able to confirm the identities of the victims because they were still waiting on identification of one person.

“We’re not making any official statements on anything until the NTSB finishes their investigation.” Miles said.

However, local press outlets have identified the victims based on statements from friends and family.

According to local press reports, the passengers of the plane were from Oxford, Mississippi. They were traveling from Kissimmee, Florida when the crash occurred.

The victims were Dr. Austin Poole and his wife Angie Poole, Dr. Michael Perry and his wife Kim Perry, Dr. Lea Farese and her husband Dr. Jason Farese. The doctors were all dentists. The Oxford Eagle reported that the Farese’s operated Farese Family Dental in Oxford.

Ray Funeral Home in Cleveland, Mississippi has a page on its website “In Memory of Austin and Angie Poole” with the date Sunday, August 14, 2016, but no obituaries are yet posted.

Police have not yet confirmed who was flying the plane at the time of the crash.

According to Flight Aware, the plane was registered to Oxford University Aircraft Charters, LLC. The website of the Secretary of State for Mississippi lists Jason P. Farese as the registered agent for Oxford University Aircraft Charters.

In her press briefing, Kenmer said the NTSB would be looking into “The man, the machine, and the environment.” This statement was echoed by Holloway, who said that investigation of those three points is the standard approach for incidents involving aircraft.

Holloway said the NTSB will release a preliminary report within about 10 days of the crash. That report will document the scene and provide factual information gathered during the investigation. It will not determine a cause.

A final report can take 12 to 18 months, Holloway said. Both reports will be available on the NTSB’s website once they are completed.

The FAA will assist the NTSB and run a parallel investigation to determine if any aviation regulations were violated, Bergen said.

According to the NTSB’s Summary of US Civil Aviation Accidents for Calendar Year 2013 (the most recent year for which statistics are available) there were 1,298 civil aviation accidents that year in the U.S. Of those, 236 were fatal crash, resulting in the deaths of 429 people.