MONROE, Ga. — The pilot whose plane crashed at the Monroe airport Tuesday has died.
Police are not identifying the man, who is in his late 30s and from Monroe.
He was flying a single-engine plane, which belonged to someone else, that he had been working on Tuesday afternoon and crashed into a hillside between the Monroe-Walton County Airport runway and Richard Parsons Drive.
The pilot was the only occupant. Police Chief R.V. Watts said the man was transported to Piedmont Walton Hospital in Monroe, where he died.
Watts was near tears as he spoke to reporters at Coker Park.
“That family’s real close to our Police Department,” he said. “One of our officers is actually related to him, so you can imagine how it’s affecting us.
“The majority of the law enforcement community knows him. He’s well-known in this community. His family’s well-known in this community.”
In a Facebook post, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement:
Our hearts are broken for this family who are our friends and are huge supporters of public safety. Please keep this family in your every thought and your continued prayers.
The victim will be identified after distant relatives are notified. Watts said the victim was born in 1980.
Watts said the pilot taxied down the runway, took off then circled back to land when the crash occurred. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board were expected to send investigators to the scene.
Watts said someone called 911 at 5:37 p.m. Monroe police and fire were dispatched two minutes later and arrived at 5:41. Paramedics took the patient to the hospital at 6:09 p.m.
“Once they arrived on scene, they extracted the pilot from the crash site, (and) started taking steps to preserve life,” he said.
“Life Flight was called and arrived on scene, but they were unable to stabilize the pilot, which is why the decision was made to transport him to Piedmont Hospital here in Monroe, to see if they could get him stabilized, and possibly get him on the helicopter flight out to a trauma center.”
Battalion Chief Jack Armstrong of the Monroe Fire Department said he recalled a previous death from a plane crash at the city’s airport, but could not immediately recall the details.
There have been multiple deaths of skydivers around the airport, most recently in June 2017.