Monday, August 28, 2017

Beech A36 Bonanza, N87RY: Fatal accident occurred August 28, 2017 in Ellabell, Bryan County, Georgia



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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Atlanta, Georgia
Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Randy D. Hunter: http://registry.faa.gov/N87RY

NTSB Identification: CEN17FA331
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, August 28, 2017 in Ellabell, GA
Aircraft: BEECH A36, registration: N87RY
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 August 28, 2017, about 849 eastern daylight time, a Beechcraft model A36 airplane, N87RY, was destroyed when it collided with trees and terrain following a complete loss of engine power near Ellabell, Georgia.. The pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. The airplane sustained damage to all major components during the accident sequence. The aircraft was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a business flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on an instrument flight rules flight plan. The flight originated from the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV), near Savannah, Georgia, at an undetermined time, and was destined for the Cobb County International Airport-McCollum Field (RYY), near Atlanta, Georgia.

The airplane impacted trees and terrain near Ellabell, GA. The airplane was found in a wooded swamp area at coordinates 32.23946, -81.43914, at a GPS elevation of 59 feet. The airplane was upright and facing 323 degrees. There was an impact crater centered about 10 feet directly in front of the nose of the airplane. Beyond the impact crater were trees with broken limbs and trunks that indicated a descent angle of about 45 degrees. The engine was partially separated from the fuselage. The fuselage was buckled in the cabin section with the aft section bent upward. The tail surfaces remained attached to the aft fuselage The elevator was still attached to the horizontal stabilizer, and the rudder was still attached to the vertical stabilizer. The windshield and window posts had been cut by first responders to facilitate extrication of the occupants. The forward fuselage was crushed rearward. Both wings exhibited rearward crushing with the right wing crushing being more pronounced than the left. The crush angles indicated a ground impact that was about 25 degrees from vertical. Both wings remained attached to the fuselage and the flaps and ailerons remained attached to the wings. The location of the airplane and the terrain precluded a comprehensive on-scene examination. 

The airplane was recovered from the accident site and transported to a facility for a more comprehensive examination.

Subsequent examination of the airframe revealed:

• The aft fuselage had been cut off to facilitate removal from the scene 

• The left horizontal stabilizer and elevator had been cut to facilitate removal from the scene 

• The right wing tip had been cut to facilitate removal from the scene. 

• The engine had been removed to facilitate removal from the scene. 

• Aileron control system continuity was verified from the cabin to the control surfaces.

• Elevator control system continuity was verified from the cabin to the elevator with the exception of the cuts made to the cable in order to extract the airplane. 

• Rudder control system continuity was verified from the cabin to the rudder with the exception of the cuts made to the cable in order to extract the airplane. 

• The flaps were found in the up position (0 degrees) 

• The landing gear was retracted. No pre-impact defects were noted with respect to the airframe. 

Examination of the engine revealed a hole in the top right rear of the engine case that was about 2 inches in diameter. The crankshaft was visible through the hole and there was no connecting rod attached to the visible rod journal. The engine was retained for a future teardown examination.

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


Tyrone pilot Randy Hunter (bottom right) along with Savannah couple (top right) Byron Cocke and wife Catherine Cocke died when the Beechcraft Bonanza they were in (left) crashed in Bryan County on Aug. 28, 2017.



Byron and Catherine Cocke 
In Loving Memory


Randy Hunter of Peachtree City, Georgia 
Hunter Aviation and Consultants

Video released Friday from the Savannah Chatham County Aviation Unit shows what search and rescue crews were up against Monday when they launched a frantic search for a missing plane in Bryan County.

Freddie Howell, the Bryan County Emergency Services Director told us that day that 40 to 50 emergency personnel from Bryan and Effingham Counties were searching, mostly by ground. He said some searchers had been in the area of Croft Road where the plane was later found by air.

Personnel with the Savannah Chatham County Aviation Unit spotted the plane in the wooded swampy area, according to Howell.

Howell told us Monday these operations are always “emotional”, for the first responders. “Our hearts are with the families of the victims, in this case, the family members of this young couple from Savannah.”

42 year old William “Byron” Cocke and his 39 year old wife Catherine were passengers in the plane. Both were killed along with pilot Randy Hunter who had flown the plane from the Cobb County area.

Howell says first responders also suffered that day and “do on many days when they are called to answer emergencies. “So keep them in your thoughts along with the families who suffered in this tragic event,” he told us.

Story and video  ➤  http://wsav.com


Catherine and William Byron Cocke


Celebrating the life of Byron & Catherine Cocke

Passed away on August 28, 2017

William Byron Cocke, 41, and Catherine Montford Cocke, 39, died on impact in a plane crash Monday, August 28, 2017.

Memorial Visitation: Friday, from 2-4 p.m. at Fox & Weeks, Hodgson Chapel.

A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 2, 2017, at St. John’s Church in Savannah. A reception will follow at the Green Meldrim House.

Please sign our online guestbook at www.foxandweeks.com

Memorial Visitation
2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. - Friday, September 01, 2017
Fox & Weeks Funeral Directors, Hodgson Chapel
7200 Hodgson Memorial Drive 
Savannah, Georgia 31406

Memorial Service
11:00 a.m. - Saturday, September 02, 2017
St. John's Church
1 West Macon Street 
Savannah, Georgia 31401

Reception to follow
- Saturday, September 02, 2017
Green Meldrim House
14 West Macon Street
Savannah, Georgia 31401

http://foxandweeks.com

The wife of Randy Hunter, the Tyrone pilot killed while flying a Savannah couple to Cobb County, has shared her thoughts about her husband.

The statement was released on Wednesday by Sanchez Hayes & Associates, a Fayette County law firm, on behalf of wife, Kristen Hunter.

“Randy had a passion for his family and all things related to aviation and loved flying,” the statement reads in part.

Rudjard Hayes, a partner at the firm, said the 39-year-old pilot had two young girls who “are obviously devastated.”

The charter pilot was flying Byron Cocke, a prominent 42-year-old metro Atlanta real estate developer, and his wife 39-year-old Catherine Cocke, an interior designer once featured on HGTV, when the plane crashed Monday morning.

Hayes said Hunter had flown the Cockes on business trips in the past.

A spokeswoman with Byron Cocke’s company, CF Real Estate Services, said the couple had five children. 

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Cocke family who also lost two beloved and cherished family members in this tragic accident,” the wife’s statement reads.

Soon after Hunter took off, he radioed to air traffic controllers in Savannah saying he was having mechanical trouble and wanted to return before the plane disappeared off the radar at 8:39 a.m., a National Transportation Safety Board investigator told media.

A spokeswoman with the Federal Aviation Agency said the plane was flying to Cobb County International Airport-McCollum Field from Savannah International Airport when it crashed.

Dozens of emergency workers from several local, state and federal agencies responded to the crash site in Bryan County about 150 feet from the Ogeechee River, Freddy Howell, director of emergency services in Bryan, previously said.

He said a Chatham County Mosquito Control helicopter found the downed Beechcraft Bonanza, a fixed-wing single-engine aircraft, about 11:20 a.m. on Monday, nearly two hours after being notified that it had crashed in a marshy wooded area.

“The Hunter family is sincerely grateful to all the first responders in their efforts to locate the aircraft,” the statement said. “We ask for your prayers for the Hunter family as well as the Cocke family as we all try to deal with this tragedy.”

The NTSB will tear apart and inspect the plane, including its engine, to see if there were any malfunctions as part of its investigation.


http://www.ajc.com



A final determination of a single-engine plane crash Monday in North Bryan County that killed three people could take up to a year, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

John Brannen, a senior air safety investigator with the federal agency, said he should have a preliminary report done within a week after returning to his Chicago office, but that the final report detailing the probable cause of the crash could take six months to a year.

Killed in the crash were William Cocke, 42, and Catherine Cocke, 39, of Savannah, along with the pilot of the chartered plane that was flying the couple from Savannah to Cobb County. The couple leaves behind five children ranging in age from 10 months to 13 years. The pilot has been identified as Randy Hunter of Tyrone, Ga.

Bryan County Emergency Services Chief Freddy Howell said the FAA contacted his agency around 9:30 a.m. saying the plane was flying at an altitude of about 300 feet before it crashed.

The wreckage of the aircraft was found at 11:18 a.m. when it was spotted by a Coast Guard helicopter. Searchers included Bryan County Emergency Services, Bryan County Sheriff's Office, Effingham County Sheriff's Office and Effingham County Emergency Services. Emergency personnel used ATVs to get to the aircraft. It was located off of Eldora and Croft roads.

Brannen said the last radio contact the pilot had with air traffic control at the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport was at 8:39 a.m. Monday when he indicated he was having engine problems and would attempt to return to the airport.

The plane crashed in a heavily wooded area near a cotton field in North Bryan near the Effingham County line. Brannen said he is unsure if the pilot was attempting to land in the field or not.

“We are gathering the voice recordings and radar data right now,” he said. “We’ve also located the maintenance records for the plane.”

Because of the location of the crash, Brannen said a company out of Griffin, Ga., has been contacted to remove the plane.

“We can’t do a whole lot of examination on the scene because of where it’s at,” he said.

Once the plane is extracted, the engine will be sent to the manufacturer’s headquarters in Mobile, Ala., for a thorough examination.

Brannen said the final report will take into account “man, machine and environment,” including whether or not Monday’s high winds and rain from a tropical depression off the coast played a part.

Howell said about 40 to 50 personnel were involved in the search, which included two boats on the Ogeechee River. There was no fire from the crash, so Howell said searchers could not locate it by following black smoke. Some media are reporting that the pilot radioed that he was having engine trouble and that he was attempting to return to Savannah.

Authorities have closed off the area.

"It's very heavily wooded," Howell said. "Georgia Forestry cut a path for us to access the site."

The Bryan County Coroner’s Office arrived at the scene about 12:30 p.m. Monday. Officials said all three occupants of the plane died on impact.

Howell said Hunter, the pilot, owned Hunter Aviation out of Peachtree City. He was chartered to fly to Savannah to take the Cockes to Cobb County. Officials are unsure if Hunter flew the plane to Savannah earlier Monday morning or Sunday.

Howell said the Beechcraft Bonanza plane bearing the tail identification of N87RY was chartered from Falcon Field near Atlanta. Brannen said the plane was manufactured in 1994 and its records will be looked at as well as the pilot’s flight log.

A woman driving a vehicle with a Chatham County license plate showed up at the Bryan County Emergency Services staging site at the Georgia Forestry office on Eldora Road around 1 p.m. Monday. She was visibly upset and crying. Howell later identified her as a nanny for the Cocke family.

Howell asked the public to pray for the victims as well as the first responders involved.

“The rescue people are just as traumatized about a situation like this as the general public is,” Howell said of those who located the crash and found the bodies.

Original article  ➤ http://www.bryancountynews.com

An official said Tuesday that a pilot of a single-engine plane reported engine trouble at some point before the craft crashed into a heavily wooded area of north Bryan County on Monday, killing three people.

But John Brannen, NTSB senior air safety investigator, stressed that officials are still assessing the site and the wreckage, and investigators have not determined a definitive cause of the crash.

“We arrived on the scene (Tuesday) morning. We have had a chance to assess the scene. The airplane came to rest in a wooded, swampy area. Because of the location of the wreckage we can’t do a whole lot of examination on scene,” Brannen said.

“For that reason I have been in touch with the recovery service that will remove the airplane from the scene. It will be taken to their facility in Griffin, Ga., where we will do more examination over the coming days,” he said.

The crash killed William Byron Cocke, 42, his wife Catherine Cocke, 39, both of Savannah, along with pilot and owner of the plane, Randy D. Hunter of Tyrone, Ga.

“The airplane departed the Savannah airport on an instrument flight plan. So he was in communication with the Savannah air traffic control tower. He communicated by radio to the Savannah air traffic control tower that he was having engine problems. At the time of the accident he was attempting to return to the Savannah airport,” Brannen said.

“For that reason we will also remove the engine from the airplane. It will be sent to the manufacturer’s facility in Mobile, Ala. I will go down at a later date to do a full tear-down examination of that engine.”

Radar data and voice communications between the pilot and the tower are being collected for review. Maintenance records for the airplane have been located and are being taken to the FAA facility in Atlanta.

The single-engine Beech Bonanza en route from the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport to Cobb County disappeared from radar about 8:30 a.m. Monday.

The plane’s last known altitude was 300 feet, according to Freddie Howell, director of Bryan County Emergency Services, which helped in the search for the plane Monday. “They gave us coordinates close to here. We proceeded to those coordinates and we rode past that area several times. The Coast Guard was dispatched, two helicopters, the Savannah Mosquito Control helicopter was also sent to the area. They searched for some time.

“At 11:18 the Mosquito Control crew notified us that they had identified a downed aircraft off of Croft Road.”

The helicopter crew was able to land in an adjacent field and make its way to the crash site, where they found no survivors, Howell said.

Brannen said most investigations of this type typically take between six and 12 months.

Cocke and his wife had five children. The couple were remembered Tuesday by the Savannah Downtown Neighborhood Association as well as Byron Cocke’s company. Cocke was the co-CEO of CF Real Estate Services.

Co-CEO Brett Finkelstein issued a statement on behalf of the company: “On Monday, Aug. 28 our Co-CEO Byron Cocke and his wife Catherine passed away in the crash of a small plane. We are devastated by this tragic loss. They were philanthropic, creative, intelligent, caring and entrepreneurial. Byron and Catherine were devoted to their five beautiful children, who are being cared for by their extended family. As we all cope with this loss, we ask that everyone celebrate their lives and respect the privacy of those who love them.”

Finkelstein said Byron “personified love of family, love of company and love for co-workers. He was laid back – yet motivated us to be the best we could possibly be and to treat the company as if it were our own. … We will always strive for the greatness Byron envisioned. His dreams are still very much alive, as we continue in his honor. We send our love to their family.”

The Savannah DNA also issued a statement on the Cockes: “The Downtown Neighborhood Association Board is shaken and saddened by the tragic loss of a Board member, dear friends and neighbors, Catherine and William Byron Cocke. Mr. and Mrs. Cocke have been active in not only the Downtown Neighborhood Association but also countless other civic organizations. The Savannah community has lost a shining light in this beautiful couple and while our hearts are heavy, we ask for prayers for their surviving five children and encourage that the media respect the family’s wish for privacy.

“Our support is unwavering and those closest to the family are committed to helping them in whatever capacity needed in this difficult time.”

Original article can be found here ➤  http://savannahnow.com

Freddie Howell, director of Bryan County Emergency Services


The pilot of the airplane that crashed in a heavily wooded area of north Bryan County killing three people Monday morning has been identified as Randy Hunter of Tyrone, Ga. 

The single-engine Beech Bonanza en route from the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport to Cobb County disappeared from radar about 9:30 a.m., prompting the FAA to contact Bryan County Emergency Services regarding the possibility of a downed aircraft.

The crew of the Chatham County Mosquito Control helicopter spotted the downed aircraft at 11:18 a.m., landed in an adjacent field and made their way to the crash site where they found no survivors.

Also killed in the crash were Savannah residents William Byron Cocke, 42, and his wife Catherine Cocke, 39.

“We were hoping that they had just lost communications and that they had landed somewhere. It is not what we wanted and our thoughts and our prayers go out to the family members of the pilot and the two passengers who were on board,” Bryan County EMS Director Freddie Howell said Monday.

Hunter was also the owner of the airplane. No prior incidents or accidents had been reported for the aircraft.

Cocke was the co-CEO of CF Real Estate Services. Co-CEO Brett Finkelstein issued a statement on behalf of the company:

“On Monday, Aug. 28 Our Co-CEO Byron Cocke and his wife Catherine passed away in the crash of a small plane. We are devastated by this tragic loss. They were philanthropic, creative, intelligent, caring and entrepreneurial. Byron and Catherine were devoted to their five beautiful children, who are being cared for by their extended family. As we all cope with this loss, we ask that everyone celebrate their lives and respect the privacy of those who love them. Working with Byron was a joy. He personified love of family, love of company and love for co-workers. He was laid back – yet motivated us to be the best we could possibly be and to treat the company as if it were our own. I will continue to lead this solid and growing organization. I’m confident in our senior team and their leadership and we are working together to ensure continuity. We will always strive for the greatness Byron envisioned. His dreams are still very much alive, as we continue in his honor. We send our love to their family.”

Cocke and his wife were members of the Downtown Neighborhood Association.

A statement from the DNA read: “The Downtown Neighborhood Association Board is shaken and saddened by the tragic loss of a Board member, dear friends and neighbors, Catherine and William Byron Cocke. Mr. and Mrs. Cocke have been active in not only the Downtown Neighborhood Association but also countless other civic organizations. The Savannah community has lost a shining light in this beautiful couple and while our hearts are heavy, we ask for prayers for their surviving five children and encourage that the media respect the family’s wish for privacy. Our support is unwavering and those closest to the family are committed to helping them in whatever capacity needed in this difficult time.”

The Cockes had five children.

Original article can be found here ➤  http://savannahnow.com



SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - We're learning more about the Savannah couple killed in a plane crash near the Bryan/Effingham County line on Monday. 

The two were well known around downtown and involved with several local organizations. Catherine and Byron Cocke's charter flight left from the airport around 9:30 Monday morning. They are being remembered as a 'shining light' in the community. 

The Downtown Neighborhood Association says it's 'shaken and saddened by the tragic loss' of 'dear friends and neighbors, Catherine and Byron Cocke.' The couple leaves behind five young children, ranging in age from just 10 months to 13-years-old. They were members of the Historic Savannah Foundation, and both had businesses based in Atlanta. 

Catherine was the owner and designer at Catherine Cocke Interiors, receiving accolades and recognition from Atlanta Homes and Lifestyle and HGTV. She was also involved with the Telfair Museums in Savannah. Byron was the co-founder and co-CEO of CF Real Estate Services. He led the operations, construction, and business development team, and was responsible for the strategic planning and growth of the company. He was also an advisor on the Downtown Neighborhood Association board. They released the following statement Monday afternoon. 

"The Downtown Neighborhood Association is shaken and saddened by the tragic loss of our board member, friends, and neighbors, Catherine and William Byron Cocke. Mr. and Mrs. Cocke have been active in not only the Downtown Neighborhood Association but also countless other civic organizations. The Savannah community has lost a shining light in this beautiful couple and while our hearts are heavvy, we ask for prayers for their surviving five children and encourage that the media respect the family's wish for privacy. Our support is unwavering and those closest to the family are committed to helping them in whatever capacity needed in this difficult time."

Research with the plane's tail identification number indicates it is a 1994 Beech A-36 Bonanza. It's a six seater, single engine plane. According to its registry on the FAA website, the plane belongs to Randy Hunter of Fayette County, GA.

We spoke with one woman who lives near the site of the crash. 

"Little helicopters don't usually fly this low unless it's like first responders that come and they usually land in the field across from us if it's a car accident, but for them to be flying in the field, and then to see a police officer come out of the field, that indicates, okay, something's wrong,' said Tonya Redmond. 

Redmond's parents actually own the land where the plane crashed. She says they will do all they can to assist first responders in their investigation. 

There are no details on funeral arrangements at this time. We'll keep you updated as we get more information. 

Story and video:   http://www.wtoc.com


BRYAN CO., GA (WTOC) - The Bryan County Emergency Management Agency has released the names of two of the victims in a plane crash near the Bryan-Effingham county line Monday. 

It happened on Croft Road, off of Eldora Road. Couple, William Byron Cocke and Catherine Cocke were killed in the crash. The pilot has not yet been identified pending notification of next of kin. 

The dense, wooded area made it difficult for crews to get to the wreckage. Georgia Forestry had to cut a path through the trees. 

Air Traffic Control lost contact with the plane with the three aboard - the pilot and two passengers. A Chatham County Mosquito Control aircraft located the wreckage. 

According to a WTOC aviation source in communication with the Federal Aviation Administration in Georgia, the plane was going from Savannah to Cobb County, GA when they radioed engine trouble. The plane turned around and was trying to get back to Savannah. The plane was a charter from Peachtree City, GA. 

Chief Freddie Howell is asking the public to pray for the victims. 

"I also ask that the public pray for these guys and women that went down to search and rescue and remove these occupants from the plane. The rescue people are just as traumatized about a situation like this as the general public is," said Chief Howell, Bryan County Emergency Services. 

The Downtown Neighborhood Association released this statement Monday evening: 

"The Downtown Neighborhood Association is shaken and saddened by the tragic loss of our board member, friends, and neighbors, Catherine and William Byron Cocke. Mr. and Mrs. Cocke have been active in not only the Downtown Neighborhood Association but also countless other civic organizations. The Savannah community has lost a shining light in this beautiful couple and while our hearts are heavvy, we ask for prayers for their surviving five children and encourage that the media respect the family's wish for privacy. Our support is unwavering and those closest to the family are committed to helping them in whatever capacity needed in this difficult time."

The Federal Aviation Administration, Bryan County Emergency Services, Effingham County Emergency Management Agency, Chatham County Mosquito Control, Georgia Forestry, and the United States Coast Guard all responded.

The FAA is taking over the investigation. Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board will arrive Tuesday morning. 

"Luckily, we work well with all of our surrounding jurisdictions, Bryan County included. We have approximately 40 people between Bryan County and Effingham at the moment. We have boats going up and down the Ogeechee River and we also have three aircraft between the Coast Guard and Savannah Mosquito Control," said Clint Hodges, Effingham County EMA Director. 

Story, video and photo gallery: http://www.wtoc.com



UPDATE: As of 5 p.m., authorities have identified the passengers on the plane as William Cocke, 42, and Catherine Cocke, 39, of Savannah. The pilot still has not been identified pending notification of his family.

Authorities say there are no survivors after a single-engine plane went down Monday morning in a swampy, heavily wooded area of North Bryan near the Effingham County line.

Three people were on board the plane, which crashed about two miles from Highway 280 off Croft Road. Their identities have not been released. 

Bryan County Emergency Services Director Freddy Howell said the Federal Aviation Administration contacted his agency around 9:30 a.m. saying the plane was flying at an altitude of about 300 feet before it crashed.

Howell said the pilot and two passengers died in the crash.

The wreckage of the aircraft was found at 11:18 a.m. when it was spotted by a Coast Guard helicopter. Searchers included Bryan County Emergency Services, Bryan County Sheriff's Office, Effingham County Sheriff's Office and Effingham County Emergency Services. Emergency personnel used ATVs to get to the aircraft. 

Howell said about 40 to 50 personnel were involved in the search, including two boats on the Ogeechee River. There was no fire from the crash, so Howell said searchers could not locate it by following black smoke. He added that the pilot did not send out a distress call before the plane went down.

Authorities have closed off the area. Howell asked that the public stay away from the area. 

"It's very heavily wooded," Howell said. "Georgia Forestry is cutting a path for us to access the site."

The plane had reportedly taken off from Savannah and was headed to Cobb County when it went down. Howell said the Beechcraft Bonanza plane bearing the tail identification of N87RY was chartered from Falcon Field near Atlanta through a private company to pick the passengers up in Savannah and fly them to Cobb County. He added that he believed the couple was married as they shared the same last name. 

A woman driving a vehicle with a Chatham County license plate showed up at the Bryan County Emergency Services staging site at the Georgia Forestry office on Eldora Road around 1 p.m. She was visibly upset and crying. Howell later identified her as a nanny for the passengers on the plane.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate, Howell said. Names are not being released until family is notified.

Original article  ➤  http://www.bryancountynews.com




A plane crash in a heavily wooded area of north Bryan County killed three people Monday morning.

The single-engine Beech Bonanza en route from the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport to Cobb County disappeared from radar about 9:30 a.m., prompting the FAA to contact Bryan County Emergency Services regarding the possibility of a downed aircraft. But finding the plane took some time.

“Its last known altitude was 300 feet,” said Freddie Howell, director of Bryan County Emergency Services. “They gave us coordinates close to here. We proceeded to those coordinates and we rode past that area several times. The Coast Guard was dispatched, two helicopters, the Savannah Mosquito Control helicopter was also sent to the area. They searched for some time. At 11:18 the Mosquito Control crew notified us that they had identified a downed aircraft off of Croft Road.”

The helicopter crew was able to land in an adjacent field and make its way to the crash site, where they found no survivors.

Passengers in the airplane were William Byron Cocke, 42, and his wife Catherine Cocke, 39. The pilot has not yet been identified pending notification of next of kin.

“We were hoping that they had just lost communications and that they had landed somewhere. It is not what we wanted and our thoughts and our prayers go out to the family members of the pilot and the two passengers who were on board,” Howell said.

The search for the downed aircraft was extensive.

“We probably had 40 to 50 people on the ground, in the air and even in boats. We had two boats along the Ogeechee River. Effingham County had a boat, we had a boat, we were doing everything possible to find the airplane. We had the Coast Guard and several people riding the roads just hunting. Actually … several of us rode past the area. It is behind a field, it is wooded terrain, it goes downhill where they are located. You could not have seen it from the road,” Howell added.

The nature of the terrain surrounding the crash site has made the recovery operation difficult.

“We have Georgia Forestry down there cutting a path to the aircraft. The aircraft is in a very heavily wooded, swampy, marsh area. There is going to be a lot of work before this operation is over. We have FAA on the way. They will do a thorough investigation of the plane and site to try to determine what actually happened,” Howell said. “Right now we have 4-wheelers, ATVs and mules down there getting our people in. We have to clear a path to help get the FAA people in there to determine what happened.”

Anne Horn, who lives a few miles from the crash site, said she heard the airplane fly over her house.

“I heard it, it was real low. But I am so used to hearing Army stuff go over I didn’t go outside to check on it. My neighbor saw it and said it was real loud,” she said.

Access to Croft Road and the crash site is being blocked by the Bryan County Sheriff’s Department and the GSP Howell said.


Story and comments  ➤  http://savannahnow.com



The two passengers on board the plane have been identified as William Cocke, 42 and Catherine Cocke, 39 both of Savannah. The name of the pilot has not been released.

ELLABELL, Ga. (WSAV) — Emergency crews announced that all three people on board a small plane traveling from Savannah to Cobb County have died. The missing plane was spotted by a Coast Guard chopper near the Bryan-Effingham County line. Emergency crews reported the small plane crashed near Ellabell. Bryan County and Effingham County emergency management officials are on the scene and will continue their investigation and recovery efforts.

According to officials, the Coast Guard contacted 911 around 9 a.m. to report a beacon signal from a small plane. Air Traffic Control also reported they lost contact with the plane around the same time.

The small craft had a pilot and two passengers on board and the plane was travelling from Savannah to Cobb County.

Story and video   http://wsav.com



SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -  Savannah civic organizations are remembering the couple killed in a plane crash near the Bryan and Effingham County line on Monday for their generosity and contagious spirit.

Catherine and Byron Cocke were well-known in downtown Savannah and involved with several organizations, including the Historic Savannah Foundation and the Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra.

"I don't think our reaction is different from anyone else's reaction," said Daniel Carey, executive director of the Historic Savannah Foundation. "I think it's just pure loss, and it's just really sad. We just hope that the family can weather this, and find the silver lining on the other side."

Carey said the couple was more like extended family, and learning they were killed in the crash was surreal. 

"I was dumbstruck, and just really deeply saddened," Carey said. "Really good people, and just the worst thing you could imagine."

Savannah Philharmonic Executive Director Terri O'Neil shared the same sentiment.

"Oh it was heart wrenching. It's just beyond belief, really, for us to hear that Byron and Catherine had this tragic accident. They were not only loyal donors of the arts and Savannah Philharmonic, but when they jumped into our community a couple years ago, I mean, they jumped in with gusto."

Carey said, "They really represented the next generation of philanthropists in Savannah, and that's pretty remarkable because that ethic doesn't always transfer from one generation to the next. But it definitely took seat with them. They had this terrific family, and you knew that their kids were going to get the same message and do the same things and will. That's what we have to hope and be encouraged by is that their kids will live the life their parents lived and do good things."

As well-known as they were for being generous donors, O'Neil and Carey said the Cocke's will be remembered throughout Savannah as friends- almost extended family members- who could change the atmosphere of a room just by being in it.

"Anytime Catherine and Byron walked into the room, I mean, they just lit up the room," O'Neil said. "I mean, they were definitely a couple. They were connected. They were committed. As parents, you just couldn't have wanted a better family unit to have Catherine and Byron as the parent."

Carey said, "Savannah is worse for this, no question. We have all lost something, not just the organizations and family and friends, but the whole community has lost something."

Both had businesses based in Atlanta.

Byron's co-founder and co-CEO of CF Real Estate Services, Brett Finkelstein, shared the same thoughts in a statement released Tuesday.

“On Monday, Aug. 28 Our Co-CEO Byron Cocke and his wife Catherine passed away in the crash of a small plane. We are devastated by this tragic loss. They were philanthropic, creative, intelligent, caring and entrepreneurial. Byron and Catherine were devoted to their five beautiful children, who are being cared for by their extended family. As we all cope with this loss, we ask that everyone celebrate their lives and respect the privacy of those who love them. Working with Byron was a joy. He personified love of family, love of company and love for co-workers. He was laid back – yet motivated us to be the best we could possibly be and to treat the company as if it were our own. I will continue to lead this solid and growing organization. I’m confident in our senior team and their leadership and we are working together to ensure continuity. We will always strive for the greatness Byron envisioned. His dreams are still very much alive, as we continue in his honor. We send our love to their family.”

Catherine was the owner and designer at Catherine Cocke Interiors, receiving accolades and recognition from Atlanta Homes and Lifestyle and HGTV.

The couple was also involved with the Telfair Museums in Savannah, which also released a statement Tuesday.

"Telfair Museums is shocked and deeply heartbroken by the tragic loss of Catherine and William Byron Cocke. The Cockes were supporters of Telfair Museums as well as other local organizations. It is a sad day for Savannah to have lost these two dynamic, caring, philanthropic people. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their family, especially their 5 young children."

Byron was an advisor on the Downtown Neighborhood Association Board. It released a statement on Monday.

"The Downtown Neighborhood Association is shaken and saddened by the tragic loss of our board member, friends, and neighbors, Catherine and William Byron Cocke. Mr. and Mrs. Cocke have been active in not only the Downtown Neighborhood Association but also countless other civic organizations. The Savannah community has lost a shining light in this beautiful couple and while our hearts are heavvy, we ask for prayers for their surviving five children and encourage that the media respect the family's wish for privacy. Our support is unwavering and those closest to the family are committed to helping them in whatever capacity needed in this difficult time."

The couple had five children ranging in age from 10 months to 13 years old, and were members of St. John's Episcopal Church in Savannah. There are no details about funeral arrangements yet.

Story and video:  http://www.wtoc.com

A prominent metro Atlanta real estate developer and his wife, an interior designer featured on HGTV, were on a charter plane that crashed near Savannah on Monday, killing them and the pilot, officials confirmed.

Byron Cocke, 42, and Catherine Cocke, 39, died when the plane crashed in a “very heavily wooded area” of Bryan County about 150 feet from the Ogeechee River, said Freddy Howell, director of emergency services in Bryan.

He identified the pilot as Randy Hunter of Tyrone, where records show he lived off of Palmetto Road.

Howell said he spoke on Tuesday with Hunter’s wife, who was doing her best to process the situation.

“Our hearts are heavy for everyone involved,” he said.

A Chatham County Mosquito Control helicopter found the downed Beechcraft Bonanza, a fixed-wing single-engine aircraft built in 1994, about 11:20 a.m. on Monday, nearly two hours after being notified that it had crashed, Howell said.

Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman with the Federal Aviation Administration, said the plane was flying to Cobb County International Airport-McCollum Field from Savannah International Airport when it crashed.

That contradicts earlier information given to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from local authorities that the plane had been flying into Atlanta Regional Airport-Falcon Field in Peachtree City.

Soon after Hunter took off, he radioed to air traffic controllers in Savannah saying he was having mechanical trouble and wanted to return, said John Brannen, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board.

The plane disappeared off the radar at 8:39 a.m., Brannen told media Tuesday.

Howell said the couple was known in the Savannah area, where they lived full-time, though they had ties to metro Atlanta.

The husband is the co-founder and co-CEO of CF Real Estate Services, a company that formed from a 2013 merger between Cocke Finkelstein, Inc., and Atlanta-based Lane Company, according to its website.

CF Real Estate has properties as far north as Michigan, but is responsible for several metro Atlanta housing projects, including The Lofts at Atlantic Station and Olmsted Chamblee, which features a big sign of the city’s name.

Emergnecy officials weren’t sure whether the couple was flying for business from Savannah, where the company has a student-centric apartment complex named The Hue.

The company’s other co-founder Brett Finkelstein released a statement Tuesday about the couple’s death.

“We are devastated by this tragic loss. They were philanthropic, creative, intelligent, caring and entrepreneurial,” the statement reads in part.

Finkelstein said the couple had five children, who are now being cared for by extended family.

The website for the wife’s interior design business said she was featured on a 2011 episode of HGTV’s “My Big Amazing Renovation,” titled “Going Big in Georgia” showing her 18-month renovation of the couple’s 1950s home.

The Savannah Downtown Neighborhood Association also posted a statement about the couple’s death on its website. The statement said one member of the couple was part of the association’s board but didn’t say which.

“The Savannah community has lost a shining light in this beautiful couple and while our hearts are heavy, we ask for prayers for their surviving five children.”

Eric Weiss, a spokesman with NTSB, said Tuesday that after investigators document the crash site, contractors will move the plane to Griffin by Wednesday. There, staff will take apart the aircraft to review its systems.

Investigators will interview witnesses, look at radar data, listen to audio recordings from air traffic controllers and assess the weather at the time of the crash.

The engine will be broken down at a facility in Mobile, Alabama, to determine whether there was a malfunction, he said. 


Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.ajc.com

Bryan County, Ga. —  Emergency crews from Effingham and Bryan counties have discovered the wreckage of a downed plane in Bryan County and officials say three people are confirmed dead.

Bryan County Emergency Management Agency Chief Freddy Howell confirmed the names of the couple on board as William Cocke, 42, and Catherine Cocke, 39, both from Savannah.

The pilot's identity has still not been released.


Both the NTSB and the FAA have been contacted and could be on the scene for days.


The plane went down in a heavily wooded area, which is private property, off Eldora Road near Croft Road.


Crews were only able to reach the crash site on foot or by using ATV's.


According Howell, air traffic control lost contact with a plane that had recently taken off from Savannah.


Howell said the Cocke's were heading to Cobb County in Metro Atlanta.


The last known altitude of the plane was 300 feet.


A witness said he saw the plane flying low over his house, just barely above the tree line.


Original article ➤ http://www.wjcl.com


Three people died Monday morning after their charter plane crashed near Savannah while heading back to metro Atlanta.

Authorities in Bryan and Effingham counties said they were having trouble notifying the next of kin for the pilot and two passengers and thus have not identified the three.

Clint Hodges, Effingham’s director of emergency management, said the plane was heading for Atlanta Regional Airport-Falcon Field in Peachtree City.

He said a Chatham County Mosquito Control helicopter found the downed Beechcraft Bonanza, a fixed-wing single-engine aircraft built in 1994, about 11:20 a.m. nearly two hours after being notified that it had crashed.

Hodges described the crash site as a “very heavily wooded area” about 150 feet from the Ogeechee River, which is the border between Bryan and Effingham counties. Units from both areas responded.

Freddy Howell, head of Bryan County emergency services, told reporters Monday afternoon that of the three inside the plane, two were men and one was a woman. He said the pilot was a man and a preliminary investigation showed the other two were a couple.

The agency gave the plane’s tail number, which is registered to a man who lives in Tyrone, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.

Howell said there were 40 to 50 units on land, air and water trying to find the plane. He said some had to use ATVs to get to the plane, which is on private property.

“We were hoping they’d just lost communications and landed somewhere,” he said.

Bulldozers with the state forestry agency had to clear a path to the downed plane, said Byron Haire, assistant district manager for the Ogeechee District of the Georgia Forestry Commission.

He said his agency got the call about noon to help to “punch a hole” to the crash site.

Howell said the plane may remain where it is for days, as the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board investigate.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.ajc.com


ELLABELL, Ga. (WSAV) – A representative of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is on-scene where a plane crash in Bryan County yesterday, August 28. 

The crash claimed the lives of William ‘Byron’ Cocke, 42, and Catherine Cocke, 39 both of Savannah.

The pilot has been identified as Randy Hunter of Peachtree City, Georgia with Hunter Aviation and Consultants.

John Brannen of the NTSB says parts of the plane are being removed from the scene for analysis, including the engine.

Brannen said air traffic control at the Savannah International Airport lost sight (on radar) of the plane at 8:39 am Monday.

He also said that shortly before that the pilot had told controllers he was having engine trouble and returning to the airport.

Brannen says a preliminary report on the crash may be available in a few weeks, but a final report and, or cause may not be known for months.

He says the engine will be analyzed but that the pilot’s record, plane maintenance, and weather conditions are also considered as possible factors.

The plane was a 1994 Beechcraft Bonanza with six seats.

Bryan County officials say that Hunter and the Cocke both had young children and their hearts go out to both families.

Story, video and photo gallery ➤ http://wsav.com

10 comments:

John Darke, Sr. said...

The IO550 engine in the A-36 Bonanza is 300 horsepower. This would not make it capable of 300 miles per hour. A correction appears to be in order.

Jetmech76 said...

The Planes speed capabilities would be irrelevant and off topic wouldn't you say? Come on...

Anonymous said...

If they have 5 children, pilots please never put both parents on one single engine aircraft.

liuyan pressley said...

This one has an IO-520 285/300 hp and 300 ft not 300 mph

Anonymous said...

"If they have 5 children, pilots please never put both parents on one single engine aircraft."
^ Excellent point. Thank you!
I know a family where both young parents were killed in a GA plane crash, it was, of course, a devastating event. They had 4 children under 9.
Our company executives (business partners) always, always, take separate flights.
Fly Safe, Train Often....

Anonymous said...

Another Bonanza crash? What's happening?

Anonymous said...

Wondering why comments that are critical are anonymous.........

David Duckworth said...

I am so sorry that this happened. Your family is in our thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to you on this tragic loss.

Anonymous said...

It says chartered, but reports says Part 91 Operations. Was this a 134 1/2 Operation?