23-year-old identified after exiting plane midair, falling into Fuquay-Varina neighborhood :: WRAL.com

— Authorities say they have found the body of a man who may have jumped or fallen from a plane before it approached Raleigh-Durham International Airport for an emergency landing after having trouble with its landing gear.

Late Friday evening, police identified the man as 23-year-old Charles Hew Crooks who was believed to be the co-pilot of the plane.

Crooks, who was not wearing a parachute, was found near Sunset Lake Road and Hilltop Needmore Road in a Fuquay-Varina neighborhood.

First responders from more than a half dozens agencies searching on the ground, and in the air, along the plane’s flight path.

“No precedent for this, leaned on training,” said a responder.

Crooks was wearing tan pants and a shirt with a logo on it, according to Wake County Emergency Management chief of operations Darshan Patel.

A resident flagged down officers searching the area after claiming to have “heard something in their backyard,” Patel said.

The search started around 2:30 p.m. near West Lake Middle School, but eventually shifted to the residential area in Fuquay-Varina. They found Crooks around 6:45 p.m., when officials say firefighters helped get his body to a place where it could be safely moved.

According to the FAA, two people were on board the plane when it took off. However, a RDU spokesperson told WRAL News that only the pilot was on board when it had its rough landing.

The pilot, whose name was not immediately released, was taken to Duke Hospital with minor injuries, RDU said.

A WRAL pilot caught video of the plane – a twin-engine turbo – skidding off the runway and into the grass at RDU when it landed.

Local police are reviewing the plane’s flight path, radio traffic and working with the FAA to determine what happened.

The plane, which is owned by SPORE LTD LLC., is a small, 10-person plane.

Emergency landing caught on camera

Video captured by a WRAL Sky 5 pilot shows the plane skid off the runway, where it spins in a partial circle before coming to a stop, where multiple firetrucks and paramedics can be seen waiting.

Late Friday, WRAL News received audio of the pilot of the twin-engine turbo-prop asking traffic control for help. 

“Emergency, we’ve lost our right wheel,” said the pilot in the recording. “We’d like to speak to Raleigh and make an emergency landing at Raleigh.”

The airfield at RDU was temporarily closed until the scene was secured.

“I saw a whole crowd of people looking out the window at the jet bridge, and then saw that propeller plane on the grass beyond the runway and a couple of emergency vehicles,” said Simon Palmore, who witnessed the plane’s tumultuous landing and shared photos on Twitter,

Teams spray the area around the plane. Image courtesy of Simon Palmore.

Hermang Pathak, another witness, said RDU Airport played an announcement saying departures would not be impacted.

One witness, who was on a plane circling above RDU at the time, said the pilot delayed their landing, saying there had been a “scare” at the airport.


Leave a Comment