NTSB, FAA investigating fatal Pope Co. plane crash

Investigators are working to piece together what happened in the final moments before a plane crashed early Monday morning.

After an extensive search, the plane was found Monday night by a hiker in the Burden Falls Wilderness area of the Shawnee National Forest.

That’s about 12 miles northwest of Eddyville.

Both people in the plane were killed.

Even with multiple agencies and volunteers from around the area searching, Pope County Sheriff Jerry Suits says the missing plane was found simply by luck.

"We had some hikers that were hiking in this area here that saw some kind of wreckage,” said Suits. “They didn't know we were looking for a plane.”

After receiving a tip from the hikers, Suits says they were quickly able to find the plan about 500 yards off a path. Twenty-four hours later the only thing visible at the crash site is orange ribbon used to mark the trail by investigators.

“There’s just a lot of debris,” said Suits. “It looks like to me the plane just fell apart.”

Suits says the debris field is roughly a quarter mile long, making it tough for investigators, who are already facing a tough job with such a small plane.

"I was hoping there would be a black box, but I was told yesterday that on that size of a plane there wasn’t,” said Suits. “That bothers me, but we have some closure now for the families.”

At this time the scene belongs to the National Transportation Safety Board.

No identities can be released until the NTSB clears the scene.

Illinois State Police are guarding the area surrounding the crash site 24 hours a day. They expect to keep the area closed until later this week, but they say the terrain will make removing the plane a problem.

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