Monday, February 13, 2017

Piper PA-28R-200 Arrow, N4504X, Flying Arrow LLC: Fatal accident occurred February 12, 2017 in Cedar Key, Florida

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration/FSDO; Tampa, Florida
Piper Aircraft; Vero Beach, Florida
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report -  National Transportation Safety Board:

Flying Arrow LLC: 

NTSB Identification: ERA17FA108
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, February 12, 2017 in Cedar Key, FL
Aircraft: PIPER PA28R, registration: N4504X
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On February 12, 2017, about 1106 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-28R, N4504X, was destroyed when it impacted the Gulf of Mexico about 7 miles southeast of Cedar Key, Florida. The private pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. The flight departed Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport (BKV), Brooksville, Florida, at 1037, destined for George T. Lewis Airport (CDK), Cedar Key, Florida. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the area of the accident site, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to preliminary radar data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the airplane flew a northwesterly track from BKV toward CDK, over the western coastal key islands and the Gulf of Mexico. The radar data ended over the water about 7 miles southeast of CDK, as the airplane was on a northwesterly track at an altitude of about 1,100 feet mean sea level.

The airplane was recovered from the Gulf of Mexico and moved to a secure facility for examination. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces. All major components of the airplane were accounted for, except for a large section of the left wing, including the left main landing gear. Flight control continuity was established from the cockpit area through recovery cuts to the attach points on the rudder, stabilator, and stabilator trim jackscrew. Aileron control continuity was established from the cockpit area through overload fractures to the right aileron pushrod, and to the left wing root area. The right main and nose landing gear were found in the retracted position. The flaps were not recovered; however, the left rod end of the flap torque tube was found in the forward position, consistent with the fully retracted position.

The engine, with the propeller attached, was separated from the airframe. The propeller remained attached to the engine crankshaft flange, and the spinner was crushed against the hub. Two of the propeller blades exhibited longitudinal twisting. The third blade was bent aft about 180 degrees, and exhibited leading edge gouging at a distance from the hub consistent with impact damage found on the No. 2 engine cylinder.

The engine was rotated by hand at the propeller, and crankshaft continuity was observed to the rear accessory section. Valve action was observed at each cylinder, and thumb compression and suction were present on cylinder Nos. 1 and 3. Cylinder No. 2 was significantly damaged and exhibited an impact mark consistent with a strike from a propeller blade. A damaged spark plug precluded compression testing of cylinder No. 4. Neither magneto produced spark when rotated by hand. Internal examination of both magnetos revealed that sand, water, and corrosion were present. The vacuum pump remained attached to the engine; the drive coupling, carbon rotor and carbon vanes were intact.

According to airmen FAA records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land. He did not possess an instrument rating. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued February 19, 2015, at which time he reported 579 total hours of flight experience. According to his logbook, as of January 28, 2017, he had accrued a total of 606 flight hours, including 3 hours in the 90 days preceding the accident.

The Cross City Airport (CTY), Cross City, Florida, was located about 36 miles north of the accident site. At 1055, the reported weather included an overcast ceiling at 400 feet above ground level (AGL) with 10 statute miles of visibility. Preliminary weather information indicated the conditions at the accident site included fog and low stratus cloud cover up to about 4,000 feet agl. National Weather Service Center Weather Advisories and an AIRMET warnings were issued for the accident area, warning of cloud ceilings lower than 500 feet agl and/or visibility less than 1 statute mile.

A portable GPS receiver was recovered from the accident site and forwarded to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder laboratory for examination.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

CEDAR KEY, Fla. - Levy County deputies believe they have recovered some of the remains of Dylan Jerrels. He's the 17-year-old Steinbrenner High School student who was on a plane that crashed in Cedar Key in February

Divers recovered the body of Dylan's dad, Jasper Jerrels and his father's finance Hue Singletary shortly after the crash.

But for days there was no sign of Dylan, a senior at Steinbrenner High School.

His mother Sarah made a tearful plea on Action News. A man living hours away in Fort Walton Beach saw it and felt compelled to help, bringing the family some peace.

Speaking via Skype, you could hear the emotion in Dan Griffith's voice on finding what's believed to be Dylan Jerrels's remains.

"I think that gave her a little bit of comfort that somebody was still looking for her son," said Griffith.

Sarah Jerrel's, Dylan's mom, and his uncle Craig Goldstein made an emotional plea the day crews pulled the remnants of the small plane from the Gulf.

"Dylan needs to be found, our family needs closure," said Goldstein.

Six hours away, Dan heard their cries for help. Now retired, he's dedicated his life to helping families like Dylan's. He started his own independent search form called Florida Sonar Search Team.

He has purchased thousands in sonar equipment. He loaded up his boat and headed to the crash site in Cedar Key.

"I get emotional about it." said Griffith.

He scanned the area for two days and came up with sonar images just 200 feet from where the single-engine Piper Cherokee went down.

"I knew that I had additional objects that needed to examined by divers, and that is what we worked off of," said Griffith.

And he is grateful Levy County deputies listened.

"I am a privateer here. I do this on my own and law enforcement doesn't always want me involved frankly," said Griffith.

But the sheriff made it his personal mission to help find Dylan. He sent a dive team and based on Griffith's images, they found remains.

And while It could take up to a year for a DNA match, deputies believe it is the 17-year-old. Sarah Jerrels also believes it is, and sent the following message: 

"As much as we all wanted a different outcome, I finally have my closure. I have asked for no physical details. I want to preserve my memory." said Sarah Jerrels

"The grief is still there and it's going to be there. We wish them a little bit of comfort knowing their loved one is home," said Griffith.

Griffith volunteered all his time and money. The search still isn't over. Levy county spokesperson Lt. Scott Tummomd said divers will go back to the area at the end of the week to look for more remains.

Dylan's mom is now starting a scholarship fund in her son's name.

Sarah Jerrels posted this message for all those who have shown their support

Friends and family,

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.  19 days ago, my life changed. I have been through something no one should ever go through, but I'm stronger than ever.

Today, God has brought Dylan home.

Although the ending isn't happy, I am at peace knowing he is near me but truly with his dad.

The Levy County Sheriff's office (Scott Trummund), Dan Griffith, Brian Cummings, my family and friends never gave up. I never gave up on my son even when others thought I should. God was waiting for me to be ready.

Please take this time to reach out to your loved ones. Make peace with those you've had differences with. Never forgot what is important in life.  

Dylan never had an enemy and never hesitated in giving a hug. He never hesitated to tell me he loved me. We should all be more like Dylan.

I love you all.

Story and video:

Late Sunday afternoon, officials in Cedar Key located the plane that went missing last week, along with the remains of a second passenger. The body of the plane’s pilot, Jasper Jerrels, 65, was found Wednesday.

Sea Tow and Florida Air Recovery in collaboration with the Levy County Sheriff’s Department discovered the wreckage beneath 10 to 12 feet of water about seven miles off the coast of Cedar Key, according to officials. Recovery crews also found the remains of 60-year-old Hue Singletary, Jerrels’ fiancée.

Her body was removed from the scene on Sunday night, but the recovery crew returned Monday afternoon to remove the plane.

“It’s definitely the plane. I’ve rode in it,” Teresa Cooper, Jerrels’ niece, said as the wreckage was brought into the Cedar Key Marina. “It’s a whole tragedy that we’ve lost three people. There’s another family member out there that has not been found as of yet.”

Jerrels’ 17-year-old son, known to friends as Dylan, was also in the plane when it went missing. The Levy County Sheriff’s Office said they will continue searching for him.

“I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that the Sheriff’s Office is not done with this search,” said Levy County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Scott Tummond. “We have a job to do, and we want to make sure this family knows exactly what happened.”

Tummond said this was one of the most difficult cases of his career. Tummond also said, along with the recovery crew, that it was one of the worst plane wrecks they’ve seen.

According to a member of one of the recovery crews, the entire side and roof of the plane were torn off upon impact, and it was difficult to see distinguishing features in the wreckage.

The plane will be taken to a facility in Jacksonville for investigation. Meanwhile, the search for Dylan will continue.

“You can replace a plane. You can replace a car,” Cooper said. “But you can’t replace a life.”



Rob Catterton said...

Do you know the tail number?

Anonymous said...

Tail number N4504X

Anonymous said...

Gulf water is too cold right now.
Too many hours have past.
I'm sorry.

Anonymous said...

"The weather was foggy then overcast, ceilings were low, but we knew him and he would call if he stopped somewhere else,"

This is incorrect. I know a pilot who was flying in the area at the time and he told me that conditions were clear to the south, where they went missing, but poorer to the north of the airport. In addition, they just recovered a body.