Plane crash family’s 2nd tragedy: Plane Crash Second Tragedy
Published: July 9, 2015
Plane crash family’s 2nd tragedy: Plane Crash Second Tragedy, The family that lost two of its own in Tuesday’s S.C. military-civilian plane crash had already been reeling from another tragedy four days earlier.
Joseph Johnson, 30, and Michael Johnson, 68, from Moncks County, S.C., were identified as the victims the deadly crash north of Charleston.
On Saturday, James and Beverly Johnson, the brother and sister-in-law of Michael Johnson, were found dead at their house in Missouri, Connie Stallworth, the sister of James and Michael Johnson, told USA TODAY. The couple’s 16-year-old grandson was charged with second-degree murder in connection with their deaths.
“Right now I’m at a loss for words,” Stallworth told USA TODAY. “I’m in denial right now. It just can’t be true.”
Michael and Joseph Johnson were killed when their Cessna 150 and an Air Force F-16 fighter jet collided about 25 miles north of Charleston, S.C., near the Berkeley County airport.
Joseph Johnson, the pilot of the Cessna, owned the plane and was a Federal Aviation Administration certified pilot, according to FAA records.
The younger Johnson, a former minor league baseball player, was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 13th round of the 2006 Major League Baseball draft and played on at least three of the Braves’ minor league teams, according to Baseball Reference. He also played baseball at Louisburg College in Louisburg, N.C.
Authorities said Wednesday that they had found Michael Johnson’s body, but not that of Joseph Johnson. The Johnsons were headed to Myrtle Beach for a day trip, officials said at a news conference Wednesday.
The F-16 pilot, Maj. Aaron Johnson, safely ejected and was taken to Joint Base Charleston for a health assessment. His F-16 “Fighting Falcon” was from the 55th Fighter Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter.
The collision happened between 2,000 and 3,000 feet altitude, Col. Stephen Jost, the commander of the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw, said at a news conference Tuesday. He said he was unaware of any weather-related problems, but said that he thought it was overcast at the time of the crash.
National Transportation Safety Board investigator Dennis Diaz said Wednesday that the NTSB is working with multiple agencies to analyze debris to determine the cause of the crash and said a preliminary report would be available in five to 10 business days.
He said the F-16 had a black box, but the Cessna did not. However, he said both planes had working transponders to communicate with air traffic control. All F-16s are equipped with radar systems, and there have been no reports of malfunctions with the jet.
Col. Stephen Jost, USAF 20th Fighter Wing commander briefs reporters on the mid-air collision of an Air Force F-16 fighter aircraft and a civilian Cessna 150 private aircraft in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, (Photo: RICHARD ELLIS, EPA)
“Both aircraft had operable transponders that basically report back to the radar site the aircraft’s location and altitude,” Diaz said. “I know the data’s there, and we’re going to be reviewing it.”
The Berkeley County Airport, where the Cessna departed from, does not have a control tower so investigators are looking into how much communication Joseph Johnson had with air traffic control, said NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson. It is unclear if Joseph Johnson filed a flight plan.
Knudson said pilots are required to announce their intention to take off and land, but otherwise do not need to be in communication with air traffic control. It is the responsibility of the pilot to avoid all traffic, he said.
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