Pilot radioed his plane was out of fuel moments before crashing near Atlanta

Father, son flying to see Peach Bowl critically hurt

January 03, 2003|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

The pilot of a small plane that crashed in Georgia on New Year's Eve radioed that he was out of fuel and 12 miles from the airport shortly before the Piper Cherokee went down in a suburban back yard, according to a Federal Aviation Administration report dated yesterday.

The National Transportation Safety Board continued yesterday to investigate the crash, which left the Severna Park pilot and his son critically injured.

Witnesses and emergency workers also said it appeared the single-engine plane, registered to a recreational group affiliated with Fort Meade, had run out of fuel.

"My untrained eye tells me that if there's no gasoline at the scene of the crash, then the airplane has run out of gas," said Lt. Dan Dupree, a fire spokesman who was called to the scene that night.

Cobb County police said that John Theune, 46, and his son, David, 12, were taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.

Cpl. Dana Pierce, a spokesman for the Cobb County police, said John Theune suffered "substantial facial and lower leg injuries" but was conscious when emergency workers arrived. The boy, Pierce said, had less-severe head injuries than his father but was in and out of consciousness at the scene.

Authorities at the hospital said both were in critical but stable condition last night. Pierce said Amy Theune flew in from Maryland to be with her husband and son Wednesday.

The father and son were headed to Atlanta to watch the Maryland Terrapins play in the Peach Bowl college football game New Year's Eve, emergency workers said. They crashed about five miles short of Charlie Brown Airport.

Emergency workers said the plane crashed about 10 feet behind a home about 5:30 p.m. No one on the ground was injured, and the home was not damaged, Dupree said.

The plane was registered to the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Fund for Fort Meade. The flying component of that group, the Fort Meade Flying Activity club, is based at Tipton Airport, where the Theunes took off Tuesday.

Sun staff writer Rona Kobell contributed to this article.

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