A small plane clipped an auto-body shop and crashed and burned in a parking lot Tuesday near the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr., killing both people aboard.
No one on the ground was hurt.
The twin-engine Beechcraft had taken off from the nearby DeKalb-Peachtree Airport and was headed to Venice, Fla., in a rainstorm when it went into a nosedive.
National Transportation Safety Board investigator Eric Alleyne said the plane sent out a distress signal, but he did not know what caused it to spin out of control.
“It was tumbling straight down,” said Malcolm Okosun, who was working on a construction project a block from the crash site downtown.
The aircraft’s wing clipped the auto-body shop as it went down, and the plane crashed in the business’ parking lot. Only a few people were in the building, and none needed medical attention, said Fire Department spokeswoman Sandra Walker.
A rainstorm was moving through at the time. “It looked like there was some pretty heavy wind,” said Chris Spanovic, who watched the plane go down from two blocks away.
The crash happened in the city’s historic Sweet Auburn neighborhood, where King grew up and later preached at Ebenezer Baptist Church. The church is a few blocks from the crash site. King’s birthplace is about 40 yards away.
The neighborhood, which calls itself the cradle of the civil rights movement, includes old warehouses that have been converted into apartments and businesses.