Witnesses saw plane climb, then roll before crash

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ATLANTA — Witnesses told federal investigators they heard a small airplane’s engines accelerate rapidly just before its nose slammed into the ground during an aborted landing at a west Georgia airport, killing all three people aboard.

The witnesses described in a new report what they saw and heard as the twin-engine Beechcraft made its final approach into the airport at LaGrange on Feb. 22, moments before it crashed nose-down into the ground.

One of the witnesses “heard the engines accelerate suddenly to full power as the airplane pitched up into a steep climb, banked left, and rolled inverted,” according to the preliminary report on the crash from the National Transportation Safety Board. “The turn continued until the airplane struck the ground in an 80- to 90-degree nose-down attitude.”

Two occupants of the plane died on the scene and one died later at a Columbus hospital, authorities said.

LaGrange police identified them as 60-year-old Vincent Michael Rossetti; 69-year-old Willy Lutz; and 53-year-old Jeffery Van Curtis, all from nearby Peachtree City.

The report notes that a glider and the plane towing it were in the area when the Beechcraft was on its final approach to land.

“One witness felt that a left turn by the accident airplane to sidestep the runway would have resolved the perceived conflict with the tow plane,” the report states.

However, the report does not say whether the Beechcraft was trying to avoid the other aircraft at the time, nor does it list a cause of the accident. The agency typically takes several months of investigating before determining a final cause.

LaGrange is about 65 miles southwest of Atlanta.

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