NTSB, FAA begins investigating small plane crash that killed two, injured two in Onslow County; names released

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HOLLY RIDGE, N.C. (WNCT) — Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration arrived around noon Friday at the scene where two people died in a plane crash on Thursday in Onslow County.

Two people were killed and two others were transported to the hospital after a Mooney M20J small plane crashed Thursday afternoon. Friday afternoon, the N.C. State Highway Patrol released the names of those involved in the crash. William Roberts, the pilot and owner of the plane, died along with passenger Willie Hobbs, Jr. Two children were also injured.

No names have been released, and the investigation was expected to continue into the weekend. The N3933H aircraft was registered to William J. Roberts Jr. of Apex, according to FAA registration, which can be accessed at FlightAware.com.

On Friday, Pete Wentz, air safety investigator from the Ashburn, Va., NTSB Office, said the entire plane was located at the crash site, meaning no parts of it broke off which might have led to the crash. The plane was expected to be taken from the wooded area where it crashed to a site in Georgia for further examination at some point between now and Saturday.

“An examination of the engine, a further examination of the airframe, when we get it in, what we do is we call it a layout, where we lay out the aircraft and we open it up and look inside, inside the wings inside the fuselage, to make sure that things were connected properly, and so forth,” Wentz said.

Wentz also said they would be looking into the logbooks of the plane, the history of the pilot, the engine and other aspects of the plane itself. The crash site will also be examined.

The crash happened in the woods near the Holly Ridge-Topsail Island Airport, between Holly Ridge and Surf City. Cindy Bell, administrative assistant to the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office, confirmed deputies were called to the crash around 5 p.m.

(Cheyenne Pagan, WNCT video)

Emergency management, EMS, deputies and the NC State Highway Patrol were on the scene and were able to reach the location a short time after the report came in about the crash. An area at the intersection of North Smith Street and Sound Road was blocked off to traffic but has since reopened.

(Cheyenne Pagan, WNCT video)

“As soon as all the family members are contacted and the investigation is over with, I’m sure they’ll release more details and information about the crash,” Longo said. “What normally I can confirm really right now is that we did respond to a plane crash.”

(Cheyenne Pagan, WNCT video)

Holly Ridge Mayor Jeff Wenzel said the crash surprised people in the town.

“The town of Holly Ridge would like to extend our condolences, though, to those who lost loved ones,” Wenzel said. “And for those who were injured in this plane crash, and we hope for a speedy recovery for those who were injured and pray for peace for those who lost loved ones.” 

A preliminary report is expected to be released within two weeks on the cause of the crash. The full investigation is expected to take 12-16 months. Anyone with information they believe could help in the investigation is asked to call the NTSB at 202-314-6100 or email witness@ntsb.gov.

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