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Cook Medical Rep., Daughter Killed In Plane Crash
Updated October 11, 2015 4:58 PM | Filed under: Accident
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(JOHNSON CITY, TN.) - A Bloomington man and his daughter died in a plane crash in the mountains of northeastern Tennessee Friday night.

In a statement, Cook Medical public relations representative Marsha Lovejoy identified William S. "Bill" Gibbons Jr., vice president of engineering, and his daughter Abbey, a sophomore at Bloomington High School South, as the pilot and passenger in the aircraft when it crashed into Buffalo Mountain, southwest of Johnson City, Tennessee

According to FlightAware.com, the small plane was registered to Gibbons Jr. and the flight's destination was from Knoxville to Bloomington when it set out Friday night. Both the FAA and the NTSB confirmed the flight plan on Saturday.

The plane went down around 7:15 p.m. Friday beyond the Pinnacle Fire Tower trail south of Johnson City. According to emergency radio communications, traffic controllers at Tri-Cities Regional Airport lost contact with the pilot of a single-engine plane at about 14,000 feet.

Multiple witnesses told investigators that they saw a bright flash of light and heard a crashing sound as a plane plunged from the sky during a storm that moved through the area right around dusk.

Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley says a Tennessee Highway Patrol Helicopter pilot spotted the crash site from the air, and a ground crew of searchers then reached the area.

Authorities say a break in the weather allowed pilot Mike Musick a brief window to search through the clouds and fog, and he spotted fires burning near the wreckage.

The Unicoi County Sheriff's Office initially had led the investigation, but officials determined overnight that the crash site was actually on the Washington County side of the mountain. Emergency workers blazed a trail to the downed plane Saturday morning through the wooded area on the side of the mountain using ATVs to assess the wreckage.

The plane was traveling amid inclement weather at the time of the crash. A National Transportation Safety Board inspector said Saturday afternoon, however, it would take six months to a year to determine the crash's cause.

"Right now, we're not looking at how or why it went down," says Shawn Etcher, an NTSB air safety inspector. Etcher addressed the media at a command post established at the base of the Buffalo Mountain ATV Trail on Dry Creek Road before going to the crash site. "We're looking at gathering the facts so we can look at everything and get a full picture."



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