CARROLL COUNTY, Ga. - Authorities have released the names of two of the three people killed Wednesday in a mid-air collision involving two airplanes at the West Georgia Regional Airport in Carroll County. Carroll County Sheriff's Office said Taylor Nicole Stone, 24, of East Ridge, Tennessee, and William Lewis Lindsey, 79, of College Park, both died at the scene.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said two single-engine planes, a Beechcraft Bonanza and a Diamond DA20, collided. Carroll County firefighters and other emergency responders rushed to the scene just after 11 a.m.
“Two witnesses saw both aircraft collide in mid-air,” Carroll County Sheriff's Captain Jeff Richards said.
Capt. Richards said Stone and a student flying the DA20 out of Newnan, and Lindsey, who was flying the Bonanza out of Fulton County, perished in the accident. Both planes were attempting to land when Daniel Gregor heard the crash.
“I was out in the yard. I thought I heard a pretty loud noise. I ignored it, but then I heard a helicopter,” said Gregor. “It was hovering, so I got on my phone scrolled through Facebook and saw a live feed from the airport.”
“Both planes were coming in on a final approach at the same time, it appears one may not have seen the other one and sat down on top of it and they tumbled into the ground,” said Capt. Richards.
West Georgia Regional Airport is a small airport with two runways and no control tower. Pilots rely on visual contact and radio communication.
“For private aircraft there's a lot of flying under visual flight rules and you have to keep your eyes open and be aware of what's around you,” said pilot Bernie Weidnaar.
Richards said two pilots witnessed the collision and at least one of the crash pilots was communicating on the radio just before the accident.
“We know there was some radio traffic, as to who reported that I am not sure. That would fall under NTSB and FAA,” Capt. Richards said about the communication from the pilots.
The deadly crash has sent shock waves through the tight-knit aviation community in Carroll County. Pilots who fly in and out of the airport said the collision has had a big impact on them and their families. People drove over from nearby cities to West Georgia's Regional airport upon hearing about the accident.
Bernie Wiedenarr said he learned about the crash from a relative who was watching the news and called him.
Temple Mayor Lester Harmon is chairman of the aviation authority. He said the accident at his airport is a tragedy.
Officials said the planes, based out of Fulton County and Newnan, crashed while attempting to land near the airport, which is located at 635 Regional Airport Road in Carrollton.
No one survived the crash.
The FAA said they will investigate the scene as the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) works to determine what caused the planes to collide. The airport was closed for most of the day on Wednesday and the mangled wreckage of the two planes remained in the field where they fell, at the end of Runway 35.
William Lindsey is known to the folks around Charlie Brown Airport while Taylor Stone is known to many of the pilots around Carroll County. Authorities are still trying to notify the family of the student before releasing his name.
NTSB investigators will be back at the airport Thursday morning to begin a more thorough investigation.
“We'll be pulling the planes apart from each other, looking for signs that one airline struck the other, documenting the scene in more detail,” said Investigator Ralph Hicks.