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RICHLANDS, NC (AP) — Federal investigators are looking into what caused a small plane in route to Wilmington to crash this afternoon.

Dianna Batchelor is used to the sound of low flying planes. She lives about a mile down the road from the Albert Ellis Airport in Onslow County. She was gardening in her front yard when she heard the plane fly above her house.

“The first thing I hollered was ‘oh my god, that plane crashed,’” said Batchelor. “About just after it went over the top of my house, I heard a big boom like a big building exploded and I dropped my flowers and ran down there and saw it.”

The small two-seater prop plane made an emergency crash landing in a field about 300 yards behind Batchelor’s house on the outskirts of the Richlands community. According to Leonardo Alvarado, a Highway Patrol trooper, the two victims were coming from Vermont and headed to the Wilmington airport.

“It had severe damage on the bottom and parts of the wing were broken off,” said Alvarado.

Alvarado says the victims were a man and woman in their mid-thirties, both residents of Vermont. He says a call was made from the plane to ILM for an emergency landing at Albert Ellis just minutes before it crashed.

Batchelor says she ran to the plane to look for survivors but was told by a 9-1-1 dispatcher to go back inside her house.

“I’m just sorry they got killed,” said Batchelor. “I wish that someone could’ve done something to help them. They were close to the airport. It’s only a mile through the woods.”

There was no damage to any buildings or any injuries to people on the ground from the crash.

Highway patrol says the victims’ names cannot be released until family members are notified.

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