Search suspended for possible downed plane in Nash County

Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Authorities search for possible plane down in Nash County
Nash County deputies and other agencies were checking out a possible downed plane near Middlesex.

MIDDLESEX, North Carolina (WTVD) -- The Nash County Sheriff's Office searched Tuesday for a possible downed airplane Tuesday. Officials told ABC11 later however, that the probability of a plane down was very low, and the search was suspended for the evening.

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The Sheriff's Office said it got a call about 6:45 p.m. air traffic control in Washington, DC, that a pilot heard an "ETL," which is a distress signal coming from the area of NC 231 and Buck Deans Road.

Authorities searched that area. No one has confirmed seeing a plane actually crash, Nash County officials said.

When deputies arrived at the scene, they said they could smell an odor that smelled like airplane fuel.

One official told ABC11 there are several farms in the area, so the fuel these deputies thought was plane fuel could have been from a tractor.

A command center was set up at Middlesex Church of God at NC 231 and Highway 97.

Two adults in the area reported hearing a plane - and then not hearing it anymore.

A child in the area told authorities that they saw a plane making a hard right turn.

Officials are working with the Civil Air Patrol and National Guard to try to do some flyovers to help in the search. The North Carolina Highway Patrol also assisted with the search.

Authorities said they may come back Wednesday and resume a search as a safety measure.

Planes frequently fly through this area as it is close to several local airports, Louisburg, Johnston County, RDU, among others. It's not unusual for residents to hear airplane engines.

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