PINE TWP., Pa. (WKBN) – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are continuing their investigation into exactly what happened to cause a fatal plane crash in Pine Township, just outside of Grove City.
The crash happened just before 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The pilot, 65-year-old Richard Briggs of Cuyahoga Falls, died.
The passenger on board, whose identity has yet to be released, was initially taken to St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown. However, Mercer County Coroner John Libonati said the passenger was then taken to a Pittsburgh-area hospital for severe burn treatment.
According to the NTSB, the plane was initially traveling from Westchester County, New York to Akron. It was supposed to be a direct flight, but that was not the case.
Air Safety Investigator Aaron McCarter said they spoke with multiple, credible witnesses who said the weather was not a factor in this crash.
“We are really looking at the fact that witnesses reported that the aircraft had an oil-pressure issue, and it had landed in Clarion County Airport to address that issue shortly before the accident,” said McCarter.
From Clarion, the plane was only in the air for about 19 minutes before crashing in Mercer County.
On Saturday, crews were at the scene taking the plane out of the woods to help further the investigation.
McCarter said that the scene was hazardous and difficult to maneuver.
Crews have to work around a body of water and travel to and from the scene over a make-shift bridge built by the Pine Township Fire Department. They also have other barriers.
“The wreckage is on about a 45-degree angle, wrapped around some trees, and there was a post-crash fire, so it’s going to be a very complex recovery,” McCarter said.
McCarter credits Pine Township EMS and Fire departments, as well as the area Air Patrol Squadrons, for their help on the scene.
The FAA and the NTSB will continue their investigation on the scene after the plane is taken out of the woods.
McCarter said they will be focusing on the engine, but they will also be looking at the pilot, the environment and the plane itself.
“The examination is going to be going on, not just today, but when we follow the aircraft to Clayton, Delaware, where we can look at the entire airframe in a more controlled environment in a secured hangar there,” McCarter said.
As of now, there is no cause determined. The NTSB says it could take up to a year to finalize the answer as to what caused this plane to go down.