WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. – Searchers on Friday found three bodies in the wreckage of a small plane that had crashed while trying to land at Columbia's fog-bound main airport the night before, authorities said. There were no survivors.
The four-seat Cessna 182 was about a mile from Columbia Metropolitan Airport when it disappeared from radar around 11 p.m. Thursday, airport executive director Mike Flack said.
A helicopter with a spotlight and heat-sensing equipment located the wreckage shortly before dawn, Lexington County Sheriff's Maj. John Allard said.
The victims were identified as Len Lovette, 71, of Hopkins; and Bernard Stanek Jr., 57, and Nathan Derek Faulkenberry, 34, of Columbia, Lexington County Coroner Harry O. Harman said in a news release. Authorities believe Stanek was flying the plane.
The pilot had planned to land at Owens Field, a smaller airport near downtown Columbia, but diverted to the city's commercial airport about seven miles away because of fog, sheriff's Capt. Mike Gordon said.
He said witnesses in a neighborhood near the airport said they heard a sputtering engine, then heard what sounded like a plane crashing into trees and saw flames.
The plane was built in 1976 and registered to Four Seasons LLC of Wilmington, Del., according to the Federal Aviation Administration. It had taken off from the Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport in Virginia around 8:30 p.m. Thursday, according to flightaware.com, a flight-tracking Web site.