Mystery death of pilot as investigators believe he jumped or fell from plane

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Investigations are underway following the mysterious death of a pilot who is believed to have either jumped or fell from a plane in midair.

Charles Hew Crooks' body was found in the backyard of a home in the town of Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, US, about 30 miles south of the airport he was due to land at.

The 23-year-old did not have a parachute on, and authorities believe he fell 3,500ft, although they are not sure if he died before the fall.

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Police are now trying to piece together why Crooks was not in the cockpit when the plane hit the runway.

After making an emergency landing at Raleigh Durham International Airport on Friday (July 29), it was discovered that the small plane Crooks had been flying in only had one of its two pilots on board.

Federal authorities probing the mystery say that Crooks either jumped or fell to his death while the plane was trying to get to the ground safely after losing its right wheel.

“I believe this was a first for many of us that were working this incident today,” Wake County Emergency Management chief of operations Darshan Patel said of the death, according to WRAL.

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Both the Federal Aviation Authority and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

Crooks’ co-pilot, whose name has not been released, was taken to a hospital after sustaining minor injuries and released later that day.

The plane, which could seat up to 10 people, was badly damaged.

The victim’s father, Hew Crooks, told local media he has no idea what happened to his late son.

The heartbroken dad said: “He said a couple weeks ago, he wouldn’t trade places with anybody in the world. He loved where he was.

“I can’t imagine what happened.

“We’ll figure it out, I suppose.”

Fuquay-Varina police chief Brandon Medina described the situation as “unique” and did not say if it is being treated like a criminal investigation.


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  • United States
  • Police

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