HARTSVILLE, S.C. — A 911 caller reported that a small plane was having trouble with its landing gear minutes before the plane crashed in a Hartsville subdivision, killing the three men on board, authorities said Sunday.
No one on the ground was killed or injured when the plane crashed Saturday evening between two houses in Hartsville, authorities said. When firefighters arrived, the fuselage, grass and woods were in flames, with the fire reaching about 50 feet from the two houses, Hartsville Fire Chief Jeff Burr said Sunday. No homes were damaged.
Darlington County Coroner Todd Hardee confirmed the three deaths. Those killed were Joseph Melton Loflin II, 29, of Society Hill; his father-in-law, George Thomas Rogers, 61, also of Society Hill; and Leslie Bradshaw, 75, of Hartsville.
The plane had taken off from Darlington County Airport, and the men likely were trying to return there, Sheriff Wayne Byrd said. A 911 caller whom Byrd said was a family member of friend of the family called about 6:40 p.m. to say the plane was having problems with its landing gear, he said. The pilot was likely trying to land at Hartsville Regional Airport, about a half-mile from the crash scene, authorities said.
“As far as we know, they were just out flying,” Byrd said. Skies were sunny Saturday afternoon with temperatures in the 60s.
Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said the plane was a Lancair IV-P aircraft. A website about the plane says it seats four people and has a 350 horsepower engine.
Investigators from the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board were at the scene Sunday, Byrd said. The NTSB will determine the cause of the crash, Bergen said.