LEFLORE COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) — Authorities gave an update Wednesday on the recovery and the investigation of the Marine Corps plane crash that killed 16 service members.
During Wednesday’s news conference, WJTV learned that the KC-130T aircraft lost radar contact around 4 p.m. Monday.
Brigadier General Bradley S. James of the Marine Corps Forces Reserve said shortly after air traffic control lost contact, large plumes of smoke was spotted near Itta Bena, Miss.
James said they believe something went wrong during cruise altitude. He said there are two large impact areas of the crash site: the first one is about a half a mile north of Highway 82 and the second is about a half a mile south of Highway 82.
James said family members have been notified; they are not releasing the names yet.
However, CBS News reports that familly members of Marine Corps Sgt. Julian Kevianne and Gunnery Sgt. Brendon Johnson say the two men were among the 16 service members who died.
James said nine Marines were from Newburgh, New York and six Marines and a Navy Corpsman were from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
James said they have created a four-phase approach to continue with the investigation. Phase 1 is the recovery of the remains and notifying the next of kin; Phase 2 is the preservation of the impact sites and equipment; Phase 3 is the investigation of the crash; Phase 4 is the cleanup and restoration of the impact sites.
Authorities said law enforcement officers are securing the crash area.
Gov. Phil Bryant tweeted Tuesday that the public should avoid the crash site.
During the news conference, Mississippi Commissioner of Public Safety Marshall Fisher reminded residents that any person taking items from the site of the accident could be prosecuted. Anyone who happens to find debris or something they believe may be related to the crash should call authorities at 1-800-ATF-GUNS.