A Prattville, Ala., native was one of two men killed earlier this week when the single-engine airplane they were flying in crashed into a marshy area about four miles from Brunswick, Ga.
The bodies of Adam Griffis, 31, of Prattville and Andres Lopez, Sr., 28, a native of Colombia, were recovered Wednesday afternoon in the wreckage of a Piper Seminole PA-44. Search and rescue crews had been looking for the airplane since Monday in a marshy area of Southeast Georgia where the airplane disappeared from the radar and witnesses saw it fall from the sky.
Both men were students at the ATP Flight School, a Jacksonville, Florida-based school and the largest flight training school in the U.S. They were on their way from North Carolina to Jacksonville. Mr. Griffis posted on Facebook Monday that they were “in NC and turning around to go back to Florida.” He also posted a selfie of himself and Mr. Lopez flying the plane in ATP shirts with the words “Flyin in the soup.”
Federal officials reported that the plane had been in contact with the ground minutes before the crash, but no distress call was made. Witnesses in the McKay community who called 911 to report the crash said the plane’s engine sounded like it had been sputtering in the air overhead. Many also said they heard the impact.
Crews found the airplane upside-down in a 12-foot creek. Both of the men were still strapped in their seats. An autopsy listed blunt force trauma as the cause of death for both men.
According the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) registry, Mr. Griffis, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Chile, and Mr. Lopez both held certifications to fly single- and multi-engine aircraft. Mr. Lopez also was instrument-certified. A relative of Mr. Griffis told Montgomery, Alabama’s WSFA News that the pilot has a single prop license and was working on upgrading it to a dual prop license.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is taking the wreckage to Atlanta for analysis. The Board said it could take up to a year for the cause of the crash to be determined.