BREAKING NEWS: Pilots rescued from treetops

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 2, 2007

FRANKLIN—Two men were rescued Sunday after the plane they were traveling in crashed into treetops about a half-mile from the main runway at Franklin Municipal Airport.

According to State Police spokesman Sgt. D.S. Carr, the crash occurred at about 3:57 p.m. while the 1974 Beechcraft Bonanza was making an approach to the local airport after leaving Hampton Roads Executive Airport in Chesapeake.

The plane, owned by Safe Air LLC of Ferry Point, Suffolk, was first being piloted by Monte Stephen Crowl, 42, of Chesapeake, a licensed commercial pilot. Also in the plane was Ricky Allen Rothig of Suffolk, 43, an airline transport pilot and retired Coast Guard pilot.

Carr said, &uot;Crowl was at the controls when the engine died. At that time, he gave the controls to Rothig to attempt an emergency engine restart.&uot;

The men were at about 1,600 feet when the engine failed to restart. They crashed into the trees below.

About 65 emergency personnel were on the scene to try to rescue the men in the plane, which was dangling at least 50 feet above the ground.

Franklin Fire & Rescue, Carrsville and Hunterdale Volunteer fire departments, Isle of Wight Emergency Management, the Isle of Wight Sheriff’s office, Franklin Police Department, and Chesapeake and Virginia Beach fire & rescues’ tactical rescue teams were among those who responded.

&uot;They had to secure the plane,&uot; said Carr. &uot;It was very unstable.&uot; The men were rescued between 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Sunday.

Rothig suffered minor head injuries and was treated and released at Southampton Memorial Hospital. Crowl had no injuries.

Deputy Chief Mark Carr of Franklin Fire & Rescue and Devin Butler of Carrsville Volunteer Fire Department were the commanding supervisors on the scene.