Devastating Plane Crash in North Carolina

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Devastating Plane Crash in North Carolina

Averi Carlson, Contributor

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On Sunday, October 20, 2019, a small plane crashed while heading to Raleigh, North Carolina. Several hours after taking off, the plane vanished from the airport’s radar as it was approaching one of the three runways. This caused the Raleigh-Durham International Airport to stop all further airplanes from arriving or taking off for several hours. The airport quickly notified the police of the incident, and a search party was sent out an hour later. “During that time we had our fire units responding to the incident, which allowed no planes to take off or land on our runway,” Crystal Feldman, an airport spokeswoman said. “For about 20 minutes we had everything halted around the airport.”

The police sent out a helicopter to survey the surrounding area for heat signatures, indicating that a crash had taken place. The search party searched all night Sunday until 3 a.m. and went back out again at 6:30 a.m. When the park visitors came in the morning they were shocked by what they saw. “It was just a very strange feeling that-that just when I decided to go for a walk-somebody lost their lives here,” said Alex Bykhovski. The crash was found at 10:30 a.m. on Monday near a walking trail in the William B. Umstead State Park. Through the cold and extensive downpour, the police searched the 5,200-acre park. It was almost fourteen hours since the plane’s takeoff that they found the plane. 

There were only two passengers in the plane, the pilot, Harvey Partridge, and his wife, Patrica Partridge. When searching the wreckage, the police found they were both dead. Previous to the crash, Dr. Partridge worked in a veterinarian office in St. Petersburg, Florida. He was a pilot before the opening of the Partridge Animal Hospital and was recognized as a very experienced pilot. 

The plane that crashed was a six-seat Piper PA32, owned by Dr. Partridge. Investigators are still figuring out what caused the plane to crash. They suspect it could have been a malfunction of the engine, but other reasons are being explored. However, it could take up to a year to get a full report on what the cause was. 

According to local police reports, the Partridge’s plane wasn’t the first to go down in the area. Over the past years, several planes have crashed in Umstead State Park. In 1992, Herb Stout and another passenger, Brian R. Benson, crashed their plane while attempting to land at the Raleigh-Durham Airport. Both of them were found dead in their Piper Arrow plane crashed, not far from the area where the Patridge’s plane went down. Another incident happened in the summer of 2000. It was a small skydiving plane with a pilot and two passengers. The pilot died, but the other two passengers survived by sleeping in the wreckage for three hours. The park ranger found them, drawn by the smell of aviation fuel. 

At a conference, the day after the plane was found, the policemen who found the plane publicly announced the deaths of Harvey and Patrica Partridge. “Just a warm person, just a nice human being; definitely going to be missed,” said Sgt. Todd Hancock. Many people are now contributing to help out the Partridge family after their devastating loss.