McDuffie County Sheriff Logan Marshall confirmed the fatalities early today. The identities of the dead were being withheld pending notification of family members, he said.
The incoming plane crashed about 8 p.m., just north of the Milliken & Co. plant, after landing at the airport off U.S. Highway 78, said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen.
The pilot and a passenger were alive, according to McDuffie County Assistant Fire Chief Stephen Sewell. Marshall confirmed that two survivors were taken to area hospitals.
Bergen said preliminary reports indicate the jet – a Hawker Beechcraft 390/Premier I – ran off the end of the runway after it landed.
Perry Barinowski, a professional pilot and the president of AirStat Private Air Charter, said he was familiar with the craft that went down because he has a plane based in Thomson and sees that jet frequently.
Barinowski said the aircraft was owned and operated by the Vein Guys, a medical practice with clinics in several other Southeastern cities, including Nashville, Tenn., where the plane departed Wednesday evening.
The plane, with tail number N777VG, flew to and from Thomson-McDuffie County Airport frequently, according to federal flight data collected and posted online by flightaware.com. It had flown between Thomson and Nashville at least six times this month.
Flight records show the plane departed John C. Tune Airport in Nashville at 6:28 p.m. CST and was scheduled to arrive at the Thomson airport 36 minutes later.
A woman who identified herself as Dr. Steven Roth’s mother-in-law said late Wednesday that Roth – a vascular surgeon for Vein Guys – was on the plane and her daughter was at a local hospital but that the family did not know Roth’s condition.
The McDuffie County coroner’s office said no bodies had been removed from the scene.
Dr. Stephen Davis, a plastic surgeon who works with the Vein Guys in Nashville, said he saw Roth on Wednesday and knew that he had left for home on the plane that evening but had not heard anything else about his partner or his condition.
“I’ve been trying to find out myself all night,” he said when reached at home late Wednesday.
Bergen said the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate and determine the probable cause of the crash.
The plane is registered to a company based in Wilmington, Del.
The crash left thousands without power and caused a brush fire a quarter-mile long, officials said. A number of law enforcement, fire and rescue workers responded to the scene.
Staff Writer Steve Crawford and The Associated Press contributed to this article.