WAYNESBORO, Va. (WRIC) — A Cessna 560 Citation V business jet that took off in Tennessee bound for New York crashed in mountainous terrain near Montebello, Va., Sunday afternoon.
According to a release from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the jet took off from the Elizabethton Municipal Airport in northeastern Tennessee and was headed for Long Island MacArthur Airport in New York when it crashed in mountainous terrain in Nelson County, Virginia at around 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 4.
The Associated Press reports that the jet suffered a rapid spiraling descent and at one point dropped at a rate of more than 30,000 feet per minute.
North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) Continental U.S. Region reported that authorities were concerned about an “unresponsive ” plane flying a strange flight path over the D.C. area. F-16s were scrambled to investigate which led to a sonic boom that was heard over the D.C. area Sunday afternoon.
NORAD reported that the F-16s used flares in an attempt to draw the attention of the pilot.
“Flares are employed with highest regard for safety of the intercepted aircraft and people on the ground,” a release from NORAD read. “Flares burn out quickly and completely and there is no danger to the people on the ground when dispensed.”
The Cessna plane was intercepted by the F-16s around 3:20 p.m. and the pilot of the aircraft was found unconscious. A total of six F-16s were deployed from three locations but only two of them were tasked with directly inspecting the Cessna, according to NORAD.
Around 3:50 p.m., Virginia State Police were notified of a possible aircraft crash in Staunton/Blue Ridge Parkway region. Hours later, police and rescuers reached the site of the plane crash in a rural area of Shenandoah Valley. According to police, there were no survivors found.
According to the FAA, there were four people on board the plane at the time of the incident. The aircraft’s owner, John Rumpel, reportedly told The New York Times that his daughter, 2-year-old granddaughter and nanny were on the plane. They were returning to their home in East Hampton, on Long Island, after visiting his house in North Carolina, he said.
The incident remains under investigation by the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The exact cause of the crash is not yet known.
“Once on scene, investigators will begin the process of documenting the scene and examining the aircraft,” a spokesperson with NTSB wrote. “The preliminary report, which includes factual information learned to date, is expected to publish three weeks after the accident.”
A White House official said President Joe Biden has been briefed on the incident.
This is a developing story, stay with 8News for updates.