CHATSWORTH, Ga. (AP) – Federal investigators who examined the wreckage of a small airplane crash that killed four people earlier this month in Georgia have concluded that the aircraft broke apart in midair after flying into a thunderstorm.
The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report Tuesday into the July 1 crash, which occurred in Murray County, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northwest of Atlanta. The agency says the plane “was destroyed during an inflight breakup.” Witnesses saw “pieces of the airplane and personal belongings falling out of the clouds.”
The crash killed the pilot, Dexter Lee Gresham, and his wife, Mary Jo Yarbrough, of Etowah, Tennessee. Yarbrough’s two 10-year-old grandchildren – Austin Day and Kinsley Wilson of Corinth, Mississippi – also died.
Debris from the Piper PA-23-250 aircraft was scattered along a 1-mile (1.6-kilometer) path.