A 38-year-old father of two was jogging and listening to his iPod when he was hit from behind and killed by a small plane making an emergency landing on the beach, officials said Tuesday.
Robert Gary Jones of Woodstock, Ga., died instantly Monday evening when he was hit by the single-engine plane, which had lost its propeller, said Beaufort County Coroner Ed Allen. The pilot's vision was blocked by oil on the windshield.
Jones apparently did not see or hear the plane, which was "basically gliding," the coroner said.
FAA records show the Experimental Lancair IV-P plane was registered to Edward I. Smith of Chesapeake, Va.
Pilot: ‘A lot of issues’
Smith was on the beach with his plane Tuesday and confirmed he was the pilot. He said he didn't want to talk about the crash and offered few details.
"I've got a lot of issues going on right now. I've got a plane that's all torn up. And I've got a young man that I killed," he said.
Authorities said there was also a passenger on board but did not identify him or her.
The plane started leaking oil at about 13,000 feet and tried originally to make it to Hilton Head Airport, said fire and rescue spokeswoman Joheida Fister.
Oil blocked vision
The oil on the windshield blocked Smith's vision and he told authorities the propeller came off. When he tried to land on the beach near the Hilton Head Marriott Resort and Spa, the plane hit Jones and came to rest a little farther down the beach, Fister said.
Until it was lifted off the beach Tuesday afternoon, the plane sat in the water, waves lapping against it and the tail attached to an anchor with a rope so the tide wouldn't pull it out to sea. The waves had washed away any sign of it skidding across the sand.
Yellow crime scene tape stretched from the water to the dunes to keep people away. Tourists walked up to the tape, gawking and snapping pictures. Other than the missing propeller, the plane appeared undamaged.
The plane left Orlando, Fla., at 4:45 p.m. and was headed for Virginia, Fister said. The four-seater plane has a turbine engine, can be built from a kit and can fly up to 370 mph, according to the Lancair Web site. The IV-P model has a pressurized cabin.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating, Fister said.