'Brian was like my hero:' Loved ones mourn deaths of Franklin County plane crash victims

LOUISBURG, N.C. (WTVD) -- ABC11 is learning that Jessica Kenny and Allison Forsythe, two of three people who were killed Friday in a plane crash, were childhood friends.

Those two, along with Kenny's boyfriend, the pilot, perished in the crash.

Officials say Brian Sjostedt, a former Raleigh police officer, was piloting the plane.

RELATED: Former Raleigh officer, 2 women dead in Franklin County plane crash; FAA investigating

The trio were on board a Cessna C182 headed to Hilton Head, South Carolina for vacation.

Shortly after take off from the Triangle North Executive Airport in Louisburg, their small plane crashed into a pond.

Brian Sjostedt (Credit: Empire Aviation)

Empire Aviation

Forsythe's family told ABC11 it was the 26-year-old's first time on an aircraft.

Her family says her homework was recovered from the crash. Forsythe was a student at East Carolina University and was set to graduate with a degree in counseling in a few weeks, according to her mother, Lori Forsythe.

Allison Forsythe (Courtesy of family)

Lori said she had a feeling something was wrong when she didn't hear from her daughter. She learned about the crash in news reports.

"I have to believe with his experience he realized something wasn't quite right and he tried to turn around," Forsythe stated about the pilot, Brian Sjostedt.

Investigators are on scene trying to determine what caused his plane to go down.

"Brian was like my hero," said Zack Medford, a friend of Sjostedt's. "The nicest guy I ever met and always willing to do anything for anybody."

Sjostedt was a Raleigh police officer from 1998 to 2005. Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown released the following statement regarding Sjostedt's passing:

"We extend our deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and love ones during this most difficult time."

ABC11 also spoke to Sjostedt's former flight instructor, Paul Hesse. Hesse believes fog and rain could have been a factor.

"You can become disoriented very quickly. And I believe that could be a major contributor on Friday night," stated Hesse, who also said he believes the conditions should have made Sjostedt postpone the trip for the following day.

Funeral arrangements are currently in the works for the victims.

The NTSB is expected to release a preliminary report in 7 to 10 days.

The investigation could take up to a year to determine the cause of the crash.
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