Two killed in separate plane crashes in Gainesville and Cordele

Two people were killed and two others injured in two plane crashes Thursday — one in Gainesville and the other in Cordele.

According to Gainesville fire Chief Keith Smith, a plane was approaching Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport when it hit power lines along Palmour Drive, in an industrial area adjacent to the airfield.

Gainesville Police Cpl. Kevin Holbrook says early reports indicate the occupants of the plane, which originated from Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport, advised that they were returning and requesting an emergency landing due to possible engine complications and/or complete engine failure.

“Witnesses indicate that when the planes struck the power poles, they did not hear any engine noise,” Holbrook said.

The plane was “heavily involved in flames” when firefighters arrived, Smith said, adding that one person was airlifted from the scene with burns and multiple other injuries.

The other person on the plane died at the scene.

The victims of the crash have not been identified pending notification of the family and an investigation into the crash by National Transportation Safety Board officials, who are expected at the scene Friday morning, police said. Holbrook said NTSB officials had not arrived at the crash scene as they were believed to be still investigating a crash in south Georgia.

According to Crisp County Sheriff H.W. Hancock, a small single-engine plane taking off from the Cordele Airport crashed about 12:35 p.m. due to unknown reasons. It was one of four planes flying out of the airport after refueling, en route to an air show in Rome.

The crash killed the plane’s pilot and owner, 61-year-old Rene’ St. Julien of Port St. Lucie, Fla. His wife, 65-year-old Jan St. Julien, was extricated from the plane and flown to Macon Medical Center by air evac, which is based at the Cordele Airport.

Hancock said the quick response of public safety personnel saved the woman’s life. “They never hesitated to do their job even with the leaking of fuel on them and around them from the plane,” he said in a news release Thursday.

He added that Federal Aviation Administration officials were investigating the crash Thursday and were set to return Friday morning; NTSB officials also will investigate. Deputies from the Crisp County Sheriff’s Office have secured the crash site and will remain there throughout the night.

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