The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

February 22, 2013

Plane aborted landing, hit utility pole

THOMSON, Ga. — A small private jet carrying a surgeon and members of his clinic staff aborted its landing at a Georgia airport before it hit a 60-foot utility pole and crashed in a flaming wreck, killing five people onboard and injuring two, federal authorities said Thursday.

National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt said fuel leaking from the plane ignited in flames Wednesday night after it hit the concrete pole with enough force to sheer off the left wing. He said investigators found pieces of the plane strewn over 100 yards.

“The wreckage was severely fragmented, and it is almost completely destroyed by fire,” Sumwalt said at a news conference Thursday afternoon. “...You walk up and you say to yourself, ‘Where is the airplane?”’

Investigators don’t yet know why the plane aborted its landing at Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport, a small terminal with a 5,500-foot runway about 30 miles west of Augusta.

Sumwalt said investigators would interview air-traffic controllers to see if the pilots made a distress call and search for a flight-data recorder from the plane that might yield clues. He also said authorities had obtained video from a security camera at the airport but had not yet reviewed it.

The Hawker Beechcraft 390/ Premier I, a small business jet that seats two pilots and six passengers, was carrying five staff members of the Vein Guys clinic of vascular medicine specialists in Augusta, said Dr. Stephen Davis, a plastic surgeon who works for an affiliated Vein Guys clinic in Nashville.

The crash killed Dr. Steven Roth, the vascular surgeon at the Augusta clinic, and two of his co-workers, nurse anesthetist Lisa Volpitto and a secretary, Kim Davidson. Their deaths were confirmed Thursday evening by McDuffie County Coroner Foster Wiley.

Davis said two ultrasound technicians were also aboard the flight. He said Roth regularly flew to Vein Guys clinics in the region, though other doctors working for the clinic did not travel. Davis said his brother, Dr. Keith Davis, and Roth co-founded the Augusta clinic. He described Roth as “a great guy, a great doctor, devoted to patients and his family.”

“They’re all hard workers, all great people,” Davis said. “With their kids and family left behind and all that, it’s pretty devastating.”

Two others who died had not yet been positively identified, the coroner said. Investigators said two pilots were also aboard the plane in addition to the clinic employees.

For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World
  • Senate approves new VA secretary

    WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday unanimously confirmed former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald as the new Veterans Affairs secretary, with a mission to overhaul an agency beleaguered by long veterans’ waits for health care and VA ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Senate passes highway bill, sends it to House

    WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday voted to change the funding and timing of a House bill to keep federal highway funds flowing to states in an effort to force Congress to come to grips with chronic funding problems that have plagued ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Israel targets Hamas infrastructures in latest round of bombing

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israel unleashed its heaviest bombardment in a 3-week-old war against Hamas on Tuesday, striking symbols of the militant group’s control in Gaza and firing tank shells that Palestinian officials said shut down the ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Be ready for ‘prolonged’ Gaza war, prime minister says

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Signaling an escalation of Israel’s Gaza operation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israelis Monday to be ready for a “prolonged” war, and the military warned Palestinians in three large neighborhoods to ...

    July 29, 2014

  • Deal to improve health care costs $17B

    WASHINGTON — A bipartisan deal announced Monday would authorize about $17 billion to help veterans avoid long waits for health care, hire more doctors and nurses to treat veterans and make it easier to fire executives at the Department of ...

    July 29, 2014

  • FedEx charges raising online pharmacy issues

    SAN FRANCISCO — FedEx Corp., the latest company accused in a federal probe involving illegal online pharmacies, says it will fight the charges that it knowingly shipped drugs to people who lack valid prescriptions....

    July 27, 2014

  • EU, U.S. seek to curb Putin’s Ukraine course

    BRUSSELS — Months after Russia annexed Crimea and stepped up support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, Europe and the United States are still searching for a way to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to change course....

    July 27, 2014

  • Fighting intense near crash

    DONETSK, Ukraine — Ukrainian armed forces mounted a major onslaught against pro-Russian separatist fighters Sunday in an attempt to gain control over the area where a Malaysia Airlines plane was downed earlier this month....

    July 27, 2014

  • Gaza war rages despite truce pledges

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israel and Hamas launched new attacks Sunday in the raging Gaza war, despite going back and forth over proposals for a temporary halt to nearly three weeks of fighting ahead of a major Muslim holiday....

    July 27, 2014

  • Hamas fires rockets on Israel, ending 12-hour lull

    BEIT HANOUN, Gaza Strip — Hamas said it fired five rockets at Israel late Saturday after rejecting Israel’s offer to extend a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire by four hours, casting new doubt on international efforts to broker an end to 19 ...

    July 27, 2014