North Myrtle Beach, a peaceful South Carolina coastal town known for its sandy beaches and warm Southern hospitality, was the scene of a horrific plane crash on Sunday, July 2, which resulted in the tragic loss of five lives.
Shortly after its departure, a single-engine Piper PA-32 aircraft crashed northwest of Grand Strand Airport in North Myrtle Beach, near a golf course. The plane went down around 11 a.m. local time under “unknown circumstances,” as cited by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Eyewitness Iris Gaines, visiting the area, recounted a chilling tale to the Myrtle Beach Sun News, saying she saw the plane flying peculiarly, with one wing higher than the other, just before the crash. “It was so close over this condo,” Gaines said, providing an eerie glimpse into the incident’s final moments.
LOOK: This was the view of today's deadly plane crash in North Myrtle Beach from the Intracoastal Waterway.
— WMBF News (@wmbfnews) July 2, 2023
Emergency crews rushed to the crash scene, which was quickly engulfed in flames, resulting in a daunting scenario for first responders. Some trees were reported down near the crash site, painting a picture of chaos and destruction in the otherwise serene setting.
The Horry County Coroner’s Office confirmed the grim toll: four people were pronounced dead at the scene, while a fifth victim was pulled from the wreckage and later succumbed to injuries at the hospital.
The aircraft, registered under number N5524F, lists Joseph T. Farnese as a fractional owner. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have yet to confirm who was piloting the plane at the time of the crash or whether Farnese was aboard.
This crash marks the fourth deadly incident involving the Grand Strand Airport since May 2021, raising serious questions about safety protocols and practices. The FAA and NTSB have initiated an investigation into the crash, entering what the NTSB refers to as the “fact-gathering phase” of their process.
Such complex and meticulous investigations aim to uncover all possible contributing factors to the crash. The preliminary report, expected in the next 10-12 business days, will likely provide some answers. Still, the conclusion may take significantly longer to ascertain.
As the community mourns this tragic loss, it is crucial to remember that each aviation accident is a potent reminder of the necessity for constant improvements in flight safety. Through the fact-finding process and eventual findings of this investigation, there is hope that similar incidents may be prevented in the future.
For now, North Myrtle Beach is left grappling with this devastating tragedy while waiting for answers as to what caused the crash and how such incidents can be avoided in the future. As the victims’ identities are still being withheld, our thoughts and prayers go out to the affected families facing an unimaginable loss.