RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Government documents released Monday reveal new details about an incident involving a pilot who died in July after jumping out of a plane before it made an emergency landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
CBS 17 previously reported that Charles Crooks jumped out of the cargo plane without a parachute, but the new documents clarify the timeline during which responding rescue agencies were made aware of the jump and how he was found.
According to the documents, Raleigh-Wake dispatch contacted EMS between 2:30 p.m. and 2:40 p.m. on July 29 about a call from the Federal Aviation Administration that a “person may have jumped from an aircraft without a parachute.” The Cary Police Department was also dispatched to the area at that time.
This timeline lines up with previously released 911 calls, which were reported by CBS 17.
The documents revealed that 2:27 p.m. was when the first wave of communication for any sort of dispatch began.
The same document said the co-pilot, who remained in the plane, confirmed with RDU that Crooks jumped out of the aircraft at 2:57 p.m., approximately 35 miles from the airport. This matches up with the log, which confirms that response teams arrived at the search area at 2:56 p.m.
Following confirmation of Crooks’ jump, Cary Fire and Wake EMS 101 & 202 were released and secured at what was eventually confirmed as the landing location – West Lake Middle School – just after 3 p.m. This was traced by Crooks’ cellphone and confirmed by wireless carrier AT&T, documents showed.
The “hard landing,” as it was referred to in the log, then allowed for the use of SARTopo, or “widely-used, collaborative online and offline mapping tool for use in Search and Rescue.”
Crooks’ body was eventually found in the 5100 block of Copian Cove in Fuquay-Varina.
The documents released on Monday confirmed that 30 members of law enforcement helped in the search for Crooks’ body. Communications logs revealed that their assignment was strictly to “search different areas of a flight path for a co-pilot that jumped from a plane at 3,500 feet.”
CBS 17 previously reported that Crooks was confirmed to have “got up from his seat, removed his headset, apologized and departed the airplane via the aft ramp door…There was a bar that someone could grab about six feet up from the ramp, he [the other co-pilot] did not see Crooks grabbing the bar before exiting the airplane.”
This matches up as the National Transportation Safety Board said Crooks “opened the cockpit window…then lowered the ramp in the back of the airplane”.
The documents released Monday said responding officials received these coordinates of when the ramp dropped “from rampart Aviation, [the] owner of [the] plane advised this is where ramp of [the] plane was lowered.” This helped in locating Crooks’ body.
No details have emerged with a final answer on why Crooks left the aircraft, and an NTSB report said the investigation could take between 12 and 18 months.
Kathryn Hubbard, Ashley Anderson, Deana Harley, Mariah Ellis, Gilat Melamed and Rod Overton contributed to this article.