One dead after Columbus County plane crash


RIEGELWOOD, NC (WWAY) — The North Carolina Wing Civil Air Patrol has confirmed that one person is dead after a small plane crashed in Riegelwood Friday night. CAP assisted in finding the plane.

According to Highway Patrol, Gene Pierce, 76, took off from a private airstrip in the Bolton area and was traveling to Wallace. He was in communication with another plane after take off to confirm that he was in the air. Pierce was from Chinquapin in Duplin County.

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CAP began searching for a plane reported missing between a grass airstrip in Southeast North Carolina near Lake Waccamaw and Wallace, North Carolina. They were alertedby the US Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at 6:53 p.m.  CAP sent out two aircraft along with ground personnel just after 8 p.m on Friday night. One plane left from Raleigh and one left from Southport.

The National Cell Phone Forensics and National Radar Analysis Teams also participated in the search.

The Southport plane was able to use its direction finding equipment to locate an emergency signal to within 1 mile being transmitted from the wreckage. The Raleigh plane sent communications to the CAP Incident Coordinator in the Raleigh area.

The plane was found around 1:15 a.m. Saturday according to Highway Patrol.

CAP was in direct communication with state and local emergency management personnel, and provided the coordinates of the emergency signal to the Columbus County officials. The CAP ground personnel provided additional search resources and assisted in silencing the signal once the wreckage was located.

All CAP ground and aircrew personnel returned safely to their home stations.