Plane, pilot’s body trapped by trees underneath 100 feet of water in Lake Hartwell

ANDERSON, S.C. — A twin-engine plane crashed into a lake on Saturday near Georgia’s border with South Carolina but the pilot has still not been found, officials said.

Crews have identified the portion of Lake Hartwell where the aircraft went down, but have not been able to recover it.

The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that the Beechcraft B55 Baron crashed into Lake Hartwell near Anderson Regional Airport in Anderson, S.C.

Channel 2′s Bryan Mims went to the 56,000-acre lake on Tuesday as crews continued their rescue mission.

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NewsDrone 2 flew over the lake near the dam and spotted an orange buoy. Approximately 120 feet below that buoy, the plane and pilot are entangled in trees on the pitch-black lake bottom.

Mims learned that because of how deep the lake is, specialized divers had to be called in for the recovery efforts.

“You got probably two-foot visibility in front of you, about max. They’re having to use flashlights and a lot of feel and touch to see where they’re at,” Captain Chris Carroll with the Hart County Sheriff’s Office explained.

Carroll says that because of the trees, divers could not open the doors of the plane and retrieve the pilot’s body.

The National Transportation Safety Board has given its approval to remove the plane.


Local and federal officials are now working with a salvage company to remove the wreckage. Carroll said the process would use large air bags to lift the plane to the surface.

“They would go out on a boat and send divers down and attach airbags to the plane, and fill those air bags from the bottom, then lift the plane in stages, due to the pressure changes,” Carroll explained.

The pilot was the only person on board the plane at the time of the crash.

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Carroll says some people fishing on the lake saw the plane go down around 12 p.m. on Saturday.

“They basically said they saw the plane circling. It was a cloudy day. They saw the plane circling. All of a sudden, the plane shot up into the clouds, and then came back down in a spiral, spinning, hitting the water,” he said.

The Hart County Sheriff’s Office expects the plane removal process to begin in the next few days.

The plane will then be taken to Atlanta as part of the NTSB investigation.


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