Thomson crash probe to take days, feds say; victims identified

MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
View from the air today shows view of crash site outside Thomson
Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 7:29 AM
Last updated Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 1:51 AM
  • Follow Latest News

THOMSON — Federal safety investigators said Thursday they expect to spend almost a week investigating a fatal jet crash that killed at least five people, including the co-founder of the Vein Guys, and injured two more.

Back | Next
The Georgia State Patrol and McDuffie County Sheriff's Office limit access to the scene of a plane crash that happened Wednesday night near the Thomson-McDuffie County Airport in Thomson.  TODD BENNETT/STAFF
TODD BENNETT/STAFF
The Georgia State Patrol and McDuffie County Sheriff's Office limit access to the scene of a plane crash that happened Wednesday night near the Thomson-McDuffie County Airport in Thomson.

Robert Sumwalt, a National Transportation Safety Board member, said a team of investigators will be at the site for at least the next five days while they collect evidence from nearly 100 yards of wreckage scattered across a wooded area near Thomson-McDuffie County Airport.

“When I say that the wreckage is breathtaking, I mean it,” Sumwalt told reporters gathered near the site.

McDuffie County Coroner Foster Wylie said the GBI Crime Lab positively identified victims Dr. Steven Roth, a managing partner of the Vein Guys and three others who worked at the Evans-based company: Tiffany Porter, Lisa Volpitto and Kim Davidson.

The medical examiner is still working to identify a fifth fatality. However, the family of Heidi McCorkle, an ultrasound technician, said they had been notified that she had died.

A preliminary investigation indicates the pilot was attempting to land the plane on Runway 10 just after 8 p.m. Wednesday when, for reasons unknown, the flight crew “elected to discontinue the landing,” Sumwalt said.

The plane went airborne off the end of the runway, missing the Milliken plant building, but hitting the top of a 60-foot-tall cast-concrete utility pole.

Sumwalt said the impact sheared the left wing from the plane, causing the aircraft to catch fire. It continued airborne for about a quarter mile through trees before crashing. Preliminary reports indicate the plane was a Hawker Beechcraft 390/Premier I.

Sumwalt said the wreckage was “severely fragmented” and almost completely consumed by fire.

Witnesses said they saw the plane pull up to avoid the Milliken plant building.

McDuffie County Fire Rescue Chief Bruce Tanner said the plane clipped electric transmission lines that run behind Milliken. Power to more than 5,000 electric customers was out for a brief time last night in McDuffie and Columbia counties.

Tanner said there were two crash survivors – one was the pilot who was found by rescue workers as they arrived, walking about 300 feet from the wreckage. The other survivor was found in the wreckage still in his front cockpit seat. Both were airlifted to the Georgia Regents Medical Center trauma unit.

Georgia Regents Medical Center spokeswoman Christen Carter confirmed that one crash survivor, Richard Trammell, was being treated and was in critical condition. Trammell was listed as the owner and chief pilot for Executive Shuttle in Greenwood, S.C.

Perry Barinowski, a professional pilot and owner of AirStat, an air shuttle service based in Thomson, said he has known Trammell for years.

“Rick and I have done business together helping each other out with flights for several years,” Barinowski said in an e-mail. “I think he is a conscientious pilot. I am praying for all the families involved. The aviation community is relatively small and closeknit and a tragedy like this affects us all.”

Those who knew and worked with some of the victims shared their feelings about their friends and colleagues.

Dr. Steven Roth was a big supporter of the University Health Care Foundation and helped sponsor the recent Cardio on the Canal event, “which was outreach to children and their families to teach them about heart disease and make them aware of healthy eating habits and the importance of exercise,” said Laurie Ott, the president of the foundation and vice president of human resources for University Hospital. “He was supportive of University Hospital’s heart mission and extending that out into the community.”

Dr. Stephen Davis, a plastic surgeon who worked with Roth at his office in Nashville, remembered McCorkle as a “very sweet and intelligent person.”

“She was a devoted professional and a great teacher for our younger techs,” Davis said.

Davis said Volpitto, a nurse anesthetist, was married to the Dr. George David Volpitto, an anesthesiologist who worked with the Vein Guys.

“She was just a great person and gave excellent care to our patients,” he said.

Davis said the Nashville office had been open for about five years and the Augusta crew, which varied from two to five people depending on need, traveled by plane each Wednesday to that office to see patients.

To determine what caused the crash, investigative teams from Atlanta and Washington, D.C., have been sent to the site to look at factors like aircraft performance, operation maintenance of the aircraft, survival and human factors, and weather implications, Sumwalt said.

Video footage was captured from an airport security camera, but investigators have not had the opportunity to review the video thoroughly. Investigators will also be looking into whether the plane had a black box, which is not a requirement for all aircraft.

“Our mission is to not only find out what happened, but why it happened,” Sumwalt said.

Another press conference is expected to be held Friday morning.

Near the site Thursday, about 15 McDuffie County eighth-graders joined hands in a circle and prayed. The youngsters are part of the McDuffie County Christian Learning Center, an elective that allows students to leave the classroom for 90 minutes each day for Bible classes.

Chairman Kati Wakeland said the fatal crash was the first thing she heard about when she picked up the kids Thursday. For about 10 minutes that afternoon the students took turns saying prayers for all the friends and families of those hurt or killed in the crash.

“They lifted the family members by name,” Wakeland said. “It ministered to their hearts and hopefully to the hearts of the families.”

At the Vein Guys office in Evans, a sign posted on the door said it was closed. A message on their Facebook wall stated: “Thank you so much for all of your sweet thoughts and prayers!! Please do continue to pray for us all, we need it so much right now!!! Blessings From The Vein Guys”.

Staff Writers Steve Crawford, Tom Corwin and Rob Pavey contributed to this report.

Comments (17) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
CricketSeranade
593
Points
CricketSeranade 02/21/13 - 10:47 am
1
13
Vein Guys

Reports from other new agencies say that Dr. Steven Roth, his wife, and staff members were on the plane. A woman identifying herself as Dr. Roth's mother-in-law said that her daughter was in a local hospital, but they did not know about the condition of Dr. Roth. Unless he was the pilot, he was among those that didn't make it.

So sad for everyone involved. This is the second death in the Vein Guys family. Dr. Roth's original partner, Dr. Davis died a few years back.

Prayers go out to the families and friends.

Austin Rhodes
2852
Points
Austin Rhodes 02/21/13 - 01:03 pm
9
8
INCORRECT!

Dr. Roth's wife was NOT on board that plane.

Sadly, the Dr., and four of his staff, did perish. Pilot was seriously injured, co-pilot, minor injuries.

7 on board total.

justputtin
1384
Points
justputtin 02/21/13 - 02:44 pm
14
7
come on cricket

It is not your place to give out that kind of information. And to top it off you end up being wrong!??!!??

CricketSeranade
593
Points
CricketSeranade 02/21/13 - 03:25 pm
4
12
Justputtin, get a grip

If you were up on your news you would know that the chronicle themselves published the exact same information that I did, BEFORE I did. And multiple media outlets posted the exact same thing. If you notice my comment, I simply stated exactly what was already being reported so I wasn't wrong the news outlets were. Don't believe me? Check it out for yourself...
http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/metro/2013-02-20/thomson-jet-crash-kil...
Notice the time stamp for the last update on the article. It was time stamped: Last updated Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 2:42 AM
a full SEVEN hours before my post. So just save your self righteousness for someone else. Know your facts before you admonish someone.

kiwiinamerica
936
Points
kiwiinamerica 02/21/13 - 04:01 pm
0
1
Speaking of self-righteousness.......
Unpublished

Your post is full of it, CricketSerenade.

Uh yeah.......you and the news outlets were BOTH wrong. They were given false info and you decided to repeat it. Whenever some sort of disaster occurs, the initial reports are always full of static. It's not until some time has elapsed that the true facts begin to emerge and the fog clears.

americafirst
965
Points
americafirst 02/21/13 - 04:26 pm
9
1
You misread the article,

You misread the article, Cricket. It said that Dr. Roth was on the plane and that her daughter (MRS. Roth) was AT a local hospital and they did not know Dr. Roth's condition. It never indicated or insinuated that Mrs. Roth was on the plane. And she was not.

CricketSeranade
593
Points
CricketSeranade 02/21/13 - 05:33 pm
9
2
You are right Americafirst

I misunderstood the article. I thought it meant she was one of the ones taken to the hospital. That was definitely a mistake on my part. Still a tragic story for everyone involved. Amazing that they actually found one of the pilots walking away from the wreckage.

Sweet son
10076
Points
Sweet son 02/21/13 - 05:40 pm
10
3
Not the time or place for you guys to

pee and moan over a tragedy. Do it via email!

gagirl40
113
Points
gagirl40 02/21/13 - 05:51 pm
7
3
Cricket

I think there was confusion because the article first states: "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.: It then states:"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." Leading one to believe that his wife was in fact the surviving "passenger". Very easy to understand the confusion. Prayers to all families involved. Such a horrible tragedy.

justputtin
1384
Points
justputtin 02/21/13 - 10:34 pm
7
4
You are correct

You are correct SS

tabbymomma
12
Points
tabbymomma 02/21/13 - 07:47 pm
4
7
I also misread the first

I also misread the first report, it made it sound as if the wife was on the plane. MY BOSS ALSO thought this from the earlier report and we knew them both. Justputtin...I wouldn't talk about lack of class if I were you.

justputtin
1384
Points
justputtin 02/21/13 - 10:31 pm
10
3
God bless these families

God bless these families. My intentions are solely trying to protect relatives and close friends close to this tragedy. AC, please disable comments in stories like this for 24 hrs. It would solve this issue.

TRex
100
Points
TRex 02/21/13 - 10:53 pm
11
0
Terrible tragedy

Prayers to the families.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 02/22/13 - 12:15 am
8
0
Prayers & condolences to all

Prayers & condolences to all the families. May you avail yourselves to the strength and peace of God.

bumblebeerose
675
Points
bumblebeerose 02/22/13 - 05:09 am
5
0
Willow

Nicely Put.

julie123
43
Points
julie123 02/22/13 - 09:06 am
2
0
Prayers

Prayers to the Vein Guys family. Our thoughts and our hearts are with you all.

belle
303
Points
belle 02/22/13 - 09:43 am
0
0
Article Incompetence
Unpublished

I also misunderstood the article. Don't blame people for wanting to know who was on board. It helps us direct our prayers if we know who to pray for. Yes, God knows but we pray with more diligence in our hearts if we feel an attachment.

Johnny Hensley
42
Points
Johnny Hensley 02/22/13 - 11:52 am
4
0
The Vein Guys Organization and Family

Every day is a gift from God. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them. We take so much for granted. Tell someone you love them TODAY!

whyme
1652
Points
whyme 02/22/13 - 09:07 pm
1
2
Augusta Chronicle...

will you PLEASE make every effort to control these boards better? The speculations, the inappropriate comments, the use of the boards to shoot the breeze between regular users rather than make intelligent comments...it's gone on long enough. These wonderful people deserve better: only comments offering prayers or support should be allowed through.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Fatality highlights golf cart safety

Similar to cars, driving a golf cart has legal requirements. Texting and driving is illegal. So is driving while impaired. Also, all drivers must have a valid driver's license and golf carts are ...
Search Augusta jobs