Authorities Investigate Death of Man Who Exited Plane in Mid-Air in North Carolina

The body of a man who reportedly exited a plane in mid-air in North Carolina on Friday has been found. Identified as 23-year-old Charles Hew Crooks from Raleigh, the man exited the aircraft after it reported landing gear problems as it approached the Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU). The plane is a twin-engine prop CASA CN-212 Aviocar aircraft.

According to the authorities, Crooks was a co-pilot in the plane and there were only two pilots when the plane took off from Raeford in Hoke County around 1:10 pm. Registered to Spore Ltd LLC in Colorado Springs and managed by Rampart Aviation in North Carolina, the plane had an emergency landing at around 2:49 pm at the RDU on Runway 5R-23L before veering into the grass.

The only pilot was rushed off to Duke University hospital with minor injuries.

The Fuquay-Varina Police Department and operations manager for Wake County emergency management, Darshan Patel, said Crooks’ body was found behind a house close to Sunset Lake and Hilltop Needmore roads – a resident at Sonoma Springs had stopped local, state and federal search crews combing the area to notify them that they heard something drop in their backyard.

Crooks’ body was found around 7 pm on Friday. He was not wearing a parachute when his body was found. Patel said the authorities were investigating whether he jumped out of the plane or fell from the aircraft. The ADS-B Exchange, a flight-tracking service, said the aircraft should be around 3,850 feet in the air when the incident happened. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident.