Name of man killed in Durham County plane crash released, 911 calls shed light into crash

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Thursday, October 23, 2014
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DURHAM COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- A small plane crashed off Archery Range Road near Lake Michie in northern Durham County around midday Tuesday.

Pictures from Chopper 11 showed the twin-engine Beechcraft upside down in a heavily wooded area.

There were two people on board when it happened. Wednesday, the Durham County Sheriff's Office said the man killed was Michael John Ratty, of Chapel Hill. There's no word on the other person's condition. Authorities did say that survivor was able to call 911 after the crash and it was that call and the cell phone signal that helped authorities find them.

The name of the survivor has not been released.

Jody Piatt said it was just before 11 a.m. when a small plane caught his eye flying over the woods behind his house.

"When I looked back a few seconds later, it had turned and was going the opposite direction and then it sounded like the motor quit," said Piatt.

Within seconds, Piatt heard a loud crash. Thinking it must have been that plane going down, he headed for the woods with his dog and said he searched for more than an hour for the wreckage.

"I didn't smell anything and I didn't see any smoke and I didn't hear anything," said Piatt. "So, I thought 'Well, maybe there's nothing to it.'"

ABC11 found the plane's tail number was registered to Carolina Barnstormers, which is a flight school based at Lake Ridge Airport.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol assisted in the initial investigation along with the Durham County Sheriff's Office. We're told as soon as investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board arrive, they will be in charge of the investigation.

Keith Holloway, an NTSB spokesperson said investigators could arrive on scene as early at 8 a.m. Wednesday. They could be on the ground from one to two days and could have a preliminary report on what caused the crash by the end of next week.

A final report though won't come for another 12 to 18 months.

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