JACKSON — A small plane carrying three family members broke apart in the air and crashed in northeast Mississippi Sunday, killing everyone on board.
Witnesses reported a thunderstorm in the area when the single-engine Piper Cherokee Lance crashed near New Site, about 35 miles northeast of Tupelo. Officials did not immediately know what caused the crash.
The dead were identified as James Bartley Jr.; his wife, Terry Bartley; and their youngest daughter, Caroline Bartley, said Carter Hyneman, who shared a podiatry practice with Bartley in Columbus, Ga.
The family was flying from their vacation home in the North Carolina mountains to the University of Mississippi, where Caroline Bartley was a student, Hyneman said. Mitchell Diggs, a university spokesman, could not immediately confirm that Caroline Bartley was a student.
Debris was scattered over about half-mile in a wooded area, Prentiss County Emergency Management Director Ralph Lauderdale said.
The fuselage containing the passengers plunged into the ground, and it took almost two hours to find it. A medical helicopter eventually spotted it and guided searchers to the wreckage. About 125 emergency workers from five counties aided in the search, Lauderdale said.
The seven-seat plane left Andrews, N.C., and was headed to Oxford when it crashed about 2 p.m.