WARRENTON, Va. (AP) — Canadian officials are taking over the investigation into a deadly Memorial Day mid-air collision because the planes involved were owned by federal aviation and transportation employees, the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday.
NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said one of the agency’s employees owned the six-seat Beechcraft BE-25 in which two people were killed in the collision in Fauquier County. The medical examiner’s office has yet to identify the victims.
The pilot of the other plane — a Piper PA-28 — is an employee of the Federal Aviation Administration, the NTSB said in a statement. Thomas Proven, 70, was listed in good condition Tuesday at Mary Washington Healthcare.
Hospital spokeswoman Debbie McInnis could not elaborate on the extent of Proven’s injuries. She said Proven has declined interview requests.
NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman and FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta requested that the Transportation Safety Board of Canada conduct this investigation since employees from their agencies were involved.
“This accident hits especially close to home, with the involvement of an NTSB employee,” Hersman said. “I’m grateful to TSB-Canada Chair Wendy Tadros for agreeing to conduct the investigation and the NTSB stands ready to support and assist them in any way we can.”
State and federal officials say the two small, private planes collide about five miles from Warrenton-Fauquier Airport in Sumerduck on Monday. The Piper PA-28 flown by Proven landed in a field. The other plane caught fire and crashed into a wooded area.
Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said the planes went down about a mile apart, and debris was scattered between the two crash sites.
Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown said Proven’s plane appeared to be headed to the Warrenton-Fauquier airport. State police said the plane departed from Culpeper Regional Airport. Officials have not given details of the other plane’s flight plan.
Fauquier resident Debbie Underwood told The Free Lance-Star (http://bit.ly/KNPKUl) that she and her daughter were enjoying Memorial Day with family when she saw the planes collide.
“They looked like they were going to do an aerial,” said Underwood, who frequently sees small planes from the nearby Flying Circus doing stunts.
Bill Iames was in his garage when he heard a bang and “looked out the window and saw smoke coming up” from a wooded area across the road. He and others ran to the crash scene but the plane was a crumpled mass of burning debris.
“You couldn’t even tell it was a plane,” Iames said.