North Carolina authorities have recovered the body of a man who exited a twin-engine cargo plane during an emergency landing in Raleigh.
The body has been identified as Charles Hew Crooks, the 23-year-old co-pilot of the aircraft. Crooks’ body was found in Fuquay-Varina near Sunset Lake Road and Hilltop Needmore Road.
During a briefing Friday afternoon, Darshan Patel, the Operations Manager for Wake County Emergency Management, revealed officials had a large area to search.
“At this time, what we know is that the passenger was wearing tan pants and a logo-branded shirt,” Patel said. “We don’t have the color, but that’s all the description we have at this time. We are working with RDU and the FAA and the pilot.”
Initially, the co-pilot was thought to have exited the plane near a body of water in Apex, and “there was no indication” that Crooks put on a parachute. After authorities failed to make a recovery in that area, the search was expanded.
Authorities believe the passenger either jumped or fell out of the plane. However, the pilot told officials that Crooks jumped out of the plane before it could make its emergency landing.
The pilot requested permission to make an emergency landing after experiencing issues with the landing gear on the CASA C-212 Aviocar. The plane was able to land at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Runway 5R-23L at about 2:40 p.m. local time.
According to a video of the incident, the plane appeared to veer off of the runway into the grass upon landing. The pilot sustained minor injuries and has since been released from the hospital.
On Friday around 7:15 p.m local time, Patel revealed that a body recovered matched the description of the missing person from the plane.
Patel revealed Crooks’ body was located in a neighborhood after a resident noticed a disturbance on their property.
“We had officers that were responding in the area for the search and were flagged down by a resident. They had heard something in their backyard which led to us finding this individual,” Patel explained.
The incident will be investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board and FAA. Runway 5R-23L is expected to remain closed until further notice.