CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) — Authorities worked Saturday to remove the bodies of four people from Florida who died in the crash of a small airplane in a remote section of Virginia’s Great Dismal Swamp, state police said.
Because the crash site cannot be reached by vehicle, Dismal Swamp Canal Park officials planned to use a bulldozer to clear a path for 4-wheel-drive vehicles, said state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.
The wreckage, which was reported missing on Thursday, was spotted by a privately owned helicopter Friday afternoon and crews were able to reach the crash site later Friday evening, state police said in a news release.
Geller said that they will resume efforts on Sunday to find the bodies.
State police said the victims included pilot Theodore Bradshaw, 61, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who had more than 30 years of flying experience. The other victims were his 48-year-old wife, Mary Anne Bradshaw; and Charles Rodd, 64, and Diane Rodd, 58, both of Palm Beach, Fla.
The Civil Air Patrol, park rangers and rescue personnel assisted in the search.
State police said the twin-propeller Cessna 340 left Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport on Thursday morning with a scheduled arrival four hours later at Hampton Roads Executive Airport. The Norfolk air traffic control tower’s last radar contact was shortly after noon Thursday over the swamp.
After the wreckage was spotted by Hampton Roads Helicopters, coordinates of the twin-propeller Cessna 340′s location were given to search crews who reached the crash site by 6:30 p.m.
“We want to express our sincere appreciation to Hampton Roads Helicopters for their critical assistance with this search mission,” said state police Lt. Curtis Hardison of the Chesapeake division. “They not only supplied us with the necessary aerial support we needed to expedite this search operation, but provided two hours of flight time free of charge. Their generosity also helped bring closure to the families of those who lost their lives in this tragic crash.”
The state medical examiner and federal investigators have been notified and the cause of the crash remains under investigation.
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