HART COUNTY, GA (WSPA) – Multiple crews recovered the body of a pilot who was killed when a plane crashed into Lake Hartwell.
We previously reported that the Beech BE55 plane departed Punta Gorda, Florida Saturday morning before it crashed into the lake around 12:30 p.m.
“It has been a long five days for us, going on six and I can’t imagine how long it has seemed for the family,” said Hart County Sheriff, Mike Cleveland. “Our main concern this morning is retrieving the body.”
Only one person, the pilot, was on board the aircraft when it crashed according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The Hart County Sheriff’s Office identified the pilot as 55-year-old Todd Jeffrey Carrell, of North Port, Florida.
As the hours passed Thursday, residents came and went, watching from a distance as the blue lights traveled across the water.
“I was hoping they could get the man out as soon as they could. Because you know how it is, you lose a loved one and you are not allowed to see him or whatever, I was just hoping it would go fast and things would go good,” said Steve Cheek, Hart County resident.
According to divers, the plane was entangled all week in tree limbs and debris more than 120 feet below the surface.
“We located the plane just in no time at all then the problem at all but then the problem became apparent that the depth out there, in that particular region, was over most local divers’ certification, if you will, on how deep they can dive,” said Sheriff Cleveland.
A new recovery plan was put to work Thursday using underwater lift bags to pull the plane closer to the surface. Deputies said it allowed divers to recover the pilot’s body.
The aircraft was lifted to the surface around 6 p.m. Thursday.
The recovery effort was something the Sheriff told 7NEWS he has never dealt with before.
“We have never to my knowledge, and I have been here all my life, had an aircraft to crash in the deep water,” said Sheriff Cleveland. “Our hearts go out to the family of course that it has taken this long.”
The NTSB said the cause of the crash is under investigation.