5 killed in North Myrtle Beach small plane crash; investigation underway

The Horry County Coroner’s Office announced five people died after Sunday’s small plane crash in North Myrtle Beach.
Published: Jul. 2, 2023 at 12:39 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 3, 2023 at 9:14 PM EDT

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - The Horry County Coroner’s Office announced five people died after Sunday’s small plane crash in North Myrtle Beach.

Chief Deputy Coroner Tamara Willard said that four people died at the scene of the crash. She said one person was pulled from the wreckage and taken to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center where that person later died.

A single-engine Piper PA-32 came down two miles northwest of the Grand Strand Airport in North Myrtle Beach after departing the runway around 11:20 a.m. Sunday.

The FAA originally said that four people were on board. However, in their preliminary report, the federal agency said five people were on board the plane. Before Monday, officials had only confirmed at least one death and one injury.

The Horry County Coroner’s Office said the identities of those who died will be released as soon as all next of kin are notified. Willard said that some of the families are from another country.

Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) and Private Pilot David Sweigart has been flying for over 44 years and owns a home just blocks away from the crash site.

During his career, Sweigart has witnessed multiple accidents. He said flying comes with many risks, but one of the most dangerous parts is the takeoff.

“The most dangerous part of the flight is the first five minutes,” Sweigart said.

The Investigation

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the plane crash.

An NTSB investigator is expected to continue to examine the aircraft on Monday and gather information needed for the investigation.

However, according to a spokesperson for the agency, an NTSB investigation could take some time.

“It is important to note that NTSB does not determine cause in the early part of the investigative process,” spokesperson Keith Holloway stated in an email. “This is considered the fact-gathering phase of the investigation.”

While a preliminary report on the crash may be available in the next 10-12 business days, Holloway said a typical NTSB investigation can take 12-24 months to complete.

The Crash Scene

When crews first got to the scene of the crash, the plane was “engulfed in flames,” according to Officer Pat Wilkinson with the North Myrtle Beach Police Department.

The area of Pete Dye Drive near where the crash happened was closed for more than a day while debris from the site was removed.

North Myrtle Beach police announced around 9 p.m. Monday, that part of Pete Dye Drive was reopened after all the wreckage was cleared.

“We thank you all for your cooperation and assistance. Please keep the victims of this tragedy and their families in your prayers,” the North Myrtle Beach Police Department posted.

Photos and videos sent to WMBF News from the scene showed smoke towering over the scene of the crash seen from the Intracoastal Waterway near Barefoot Landing and Barefoot Resort.

Credit: Beth Goff

Stay with WMBF News for updates.