4 dead after small plane crashes at Georgia's DeKalb airport

By Shaddi Abusaid and Henri Hollis

ATLANTA — All four people aboard a single-engine plane were killed Friday afternoon when it crashed and burst into flames at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport, a fire official confirmed.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the Cessna 210 crashed about 1:10 p.m. EDT before catching on fire. Cellphone video appeared to show the small plane crash near the runway just seconds after takeoff.

At least 15 DeKalb County firefighters stationed at the airport ran onto the runway and extinguished the blaze relatively quickly, Capt. Jaeson Daniels told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from the scene.

“We are confirming a fatality,” Daniels said early Friday afternoon. Three other deaths were confirmed a few hours later.

All four people aboard the small plane died in the crash.

Those four people were the only passengers on the six-seater aircraft, according to the FAA. Before the fatalities were confirmed, Daniels hinted that there were likely no survivors based on the extent of the damage from the crash and ensuing fire.

“Whoever was on board — person or persons — are deceased,” he said. Officials have not released further information about the identities of the passengers.

Several witnesses eating lunch at an airport restaurant told WSB-TV Channel 2 that they looked on in horror as the plane slammed into the ground.

Grass was blackened around the crash site where a gentle slope rises away from the runway. At least five fire and rescue vehicles were on scene at one point, along with two fire engines.

Inside the airport, the passenger terminal buzzed with chatter about the crash. One woman spoke to recently arrived acquaintances as they walked to their cars.

“I’m just glad y’all are safe,” she told them.

The Downwind Restaurant, located in the main PDK terminal, was busy with onlookers watching the activity on the runway.

The county-owned airport is located on more than 700 acres in northeastern DeKalb, less than 10 miles from downtown Atlanta.

With an average of about 209,000 annual takeoffs and landings over the past three decades, PDK is the state’s second-busiest airport, behind only Hartsfield-Jackson, according to its website.

Witnesses said the plane had just taken off when it crashed and caught on fire.

Jacqueline Miles was visiting the playground by the PDK tower with her daughter and 2-year-old grandson. They arrived at the park after the crash and only learned about it when they saw the fire trucks and other emergency vehicles speeding toward the site.

”I’m just so overwhelmed,” she said. “It was a shock. It’s very disturbing.”

She reflected on the unusual scene: a busy playground with several families and children playing alongside television cameras pointed at the crash just a few hundred yards away.

”That’s just life,” Miles said.

The FAA said it would release the tail number of the aircraft once it’s been confirmed and that the National Transportation Safety Board would be in charge of the investigation.

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