ATLANTIC BEACH, N.C. (WNCT) — Officials said in a press conference Monday evening that one of the bodies of the eight people who were on a plane that crashed along the coast Sunday afternoon has been recovered and identified.
Carteret County Sheriff Asa Buck said the body of the person, whose name has not been released to the public, was found Sunday afternoon, not long after the crash. He also said the bodies of the other seven have not been located and work continues to find those along with collecting debris from the crash to piece together what went wrong.
“We have no indication anybody survived the crash,” Buck said Monday evening.
The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the overall investigation into the cause of the crash.
Coast Guard officials confirmed Sunday evening the aircraft, a Pilatus PC-12/47 single-engine passenger plane, crashed along the coast around 2 p.m., about four miles east of Drum Inlet, not far south from the Carteret County town of Atlantic and east of Atlantic Beach. Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector North Carolina command center said in a press release Sunday they received a report of a possible downed aircraft from an air traffic controller at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. They said the aircraft was seen behaving erratically on radar before it disappeared from the screen.
Monday morning, just after 11, officials said the debris field where the plane was believed to have crashed was found. Buck said in Monday evening’s press conference there were actually three debris fields that were being worked.
The United States Coast Guard on Monday morning gave an update and confirmed that eight people were on board the plane that crashed. Buck said no further information on the identities of those who were on the plane would be released Monday “out of respect for those families impacted and hurting right now.” He did say the next of kin has been notified for the person whose body was recovered. He also said some of the individuals lived in Carteret County while others lived outside the area.
The Associated Press reports that FlightAware listed a departure of a plane from the Hyde County Airport at 1:35 p.m. Sunday and noted it was last seen near Beaufort in Carteret County at 2:01 p.m. It’s believed the group was returning from a hunting trip there but no official details have been released.
There is an unconfirmed report that four of the passengers were students at East Carteret High School, WNCT’s Cheyenne Pagan reports. Buck did not confirm or deny that Monday evening.
The Carteret County Public Schools system released a statement to WNCT that read in part, “We are incredibly saddened as we join with the Down East and Eastern North Carolina communities as we await official word on the airplane crash off the coast of Drum Inlet.”
School officials also said there would be a crisis team on campus to support students and families on Monday and in the days ahead.
Gov. Roy Cooper posted his thoughts about the crash on Twitter, saying, “Our prayers and deep concerns go to the families and loved ones of the passengers. We’re grateful for the people in our state and local agencies who are supporting the efforts of the Coast Guard and other first responders.”
A Coast Guard Station Fort Macon Motor Lifeboat crew was launched Sunday along with a Coast Guard Station Hatteras Inlet Response Boat-Small boat crew. An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew from Air Station Elizabeth City was also launched to search the area, Coast Guard officials said Sunday. The Coast Guard Cutter Rollin Fritch, local fire departments, and national park service beach crews were also assisting with response efforts.
Officials said crews from as far away as New Jersey were assisting in the search and recovery.