More coroners called to Leslie plane crash site; number of dead uncertain

Extra coroners and the state's forensic anthropologist worked Wednesday to confirm how many people died in an airplane crash in a remote area of Leslie County.

James Couch, emergency management director for the county, said there were at least two people on the small plane, but officials have gotten conflicting information on whether there were more aboard.

As a result, Couch said at midday Wednesday that it was unclear how many people died in Tuesday's crash.

Dr. Emily Craig of the state Medical Examiner's Office was at the crash site Wednesday. Coroners from other counties also came to help with the work of confirming the number of victims and their identities, Couch said.

The plane crashed in a hilly, remote area of Daniel Boone National Forest where access is difficult, complicating the investigation and recovery of the bodies and the plane.

Searchers had to use ATVs and clear a path with chain saws to reach the crash site, which is between Chandler Branch and Ulysses Creek roads near the community of Sizerock in western Leslie County.

Members of the Civil Air Patrol spotted the plane, which had been traveling from Frederick, Md., to Olive Branch, Miss., just after 5:30 p.m., but it took rescue crews hours to reach the scene. It does not appear from the wreckage that the plane clipped trees before crashing, Couch said.

"It looks like it just fell straight out of the sky," he said.

Air traffic controllers lost contact with the Hawker Beechcraft 58 just before 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, said Kathleen Bergen, spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration Southern Region.

At that time, it was flying at 2,500 feet about 15 miles southwest of Hazard.

The plane is registered to Island Trading Ltd. of Woodbine, Md. It was built in 1981, FAA records show.

Island Trading is a home-based business registered to Steven J. Reardon, according to records on the Maryland Secretary of State's Web site.

The National Transportation Safety Board is in charge of the investigation.

The plane left Maryland for Mississippi at 10:24 a.m. EDT Tuesday and was scheduled to take off for a return flight at 4:10 p.m. CDT, according to, a free tracking service for private and commercial air traffic.

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