March 31st, 2010
01:38 PM ET

1 dead in Virginia plane crash

One person died Tuesday when a small private plane crashed into a UPS freight terminal outside the Roanoke Regional Airport in Virginia, a hospital official confirmed Wednesday.

Two people were aboard the plane. A Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital spokesman said that Peter Sheeran died after the accident and that John Whitmer was listed in serious condition Tuesday. CNN affiliate WDBJ identified Sheeran as the pilot.

Jill Demko, a National Transportation Safety Board investigator, told reporters Wednesday that the pilot and passenger flew into Roanoke for a business meeting and headed back to Charlottesville, Virginia, about 1 p.m. in the plane, a Piper Malibu.

The pilot said he had a flight control problem and needed to go back to the airport. She said the plane struck wires, then the ground. The accident occurred about 1:10 p.m.

"There was a severe post-crash fire, so that does complicate our investigation," Demko said. "However, we have accounted for all of the flight control surfaces and all of the components of the aircraft. Those are at the accident scene. And the wreckage path itself is relatively confined - it's only about 100 yards."

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soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Brian

    This is absolutely terrible. My condolences to the families who are impacted.

    March 31, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dave

    My sister saw this guy every day. Very upstanding guy...Just hard to believe, just saw him the other day.

    March 31, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kristy

    I feel horrible when I read and see things like this. My condolences as well to the family and others whose lives this has impacted.

    March 31, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Paul

    im really sorry to hear this. I will keep the family in my prayers.

    March 31, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. bill

    This is what happens when pilots don't do a through pre-flight! Flight control problems are easy to find if you look for them. Should have been caught before takeoff!

    March 31, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Charlie

    This is terrible, but what I do not understand is why they did not drive to Roanoke. It is only about a hour to two hours in a car to get from Charlottesville to Roanoke. My condolences to the family of the pilot.

    March 31, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. susan

    Even though you do a pre-flight you can still have issues. I had an electrical failure after takeoff, you 're not going to find that in a pre-flight.

    March 31, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Brad

    Bill, you are right that a pre-flight control check should be performed before every flight but come on, without the facts of this accident it is unfair to judge the pilot's actions so soon. Give the guy a break until an investigation is conducted, it could be something totally out of his control.

    March 31, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Steve

    Brad, don't pick on Bill. It is obvious he is an aviation expert, probably a pilot even. Otherwise he wouldn't have come to his conclusion so easily.

    March 31, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jerry

    Correct... I do meticulous pre-flights EVERY flight. However, things break.... just a fact.

    March 31, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. steve

    my prayers to the family. as to bill, it is impossible to say what caused this or how it could have been prevented at this point in time. complete ignorence of what one is talking about only helps perpetuate mis-information. try telling Sean Tucker (probably the greatest airshow pilot on the planet) that a control check prior to take off would have prevented his pitts from having a control failure during a pratice flight,causing him to bailout.

    March 31, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Larry

    A lot can go wrong in-flight that the most carefull pre-flight won't detect. Brad is right, give this guy a break. Flying, as all forms of transportation, will never be absolutely safe. All we can do is make it as safe as possible.

    March 31, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CaptainD

    Bill, your analysis is silly. It's tantamount to saying if an engine fails after takeoff it's because the pilot didn't check it before departure. Malfunctions can occur at anytime. Nothing is fool proof. If it were, there wouldn't be a need for emergency procedures because they'd never occur. But realizing that components do fail, even after they've been inspected, necessitates the need to create procedures to follow when those failures occur.

    March 31, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ashley

    i feel soo bad of what happened wen i read this

    March 31, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Joe


    Do you think Captain Sullenberger did a pre-flight before US Air Fligt 1549 landed in the Hudson? Something tells me he did. Truth of the matter is things happen regardless of how careful or meticulous you are. You don't know the circumstances and a comment like that is not needed.

    As for the families that lost a loved one, you have my condolences.

    March 31, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
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