[q url="http://www.paulding.com/forum/index.php?act=home"]Six dead in aircrash, including three prominent Paulding men Reduced 63% 642 x 483 (47.38K) Three prominent Paulding Residents are dead in an air crash near Mt. Airy, North Carolina. Among them are post Commissioner Hal Echols, local developer and owner of Raker Construction and Blue Sky Airways, Wesley Rakestraw and local developer Steve Simpson. In addition authorities released the names of Robert Butler, Tony Gunter and Frank Rogerrio. Gunter worked for Raker Construction, Butler was with the Georgian Bank and Rogerrio worked for the Facility Group. Facts are sketchy but the six are believed to have flown from Cedartown to Mt. Airy on a hunting trip. Bad weather in the area, including a low-level fog, rain and sleet, are believed to have contributed to the wreck of the plane between two homes. Late Friday afternoon, Chairman Jerry Shearin sent a note to the news media saying “It is with a very heavy heart that I confirm Commissioner Hal Echols was on the flight that crashed today in Mt. Airy, NC. Please keep Matt, Katie, and the Echols family in your thoughts and prayers at this time. Also on board were Wesley Rakestraw and Steve Simpson. Please also keep the Rakestraw and Simpson families in your prayers. I have asked that flags at all County facilities be lowered to half-staff. ” [/q]By BRENT CAMPBELL
Boyette said the plane was attempting to land when it missed on its approach and may have been trying to circle back for another attempt before it crashed.
“There was a really low fog, it was raining a little bit and an occasional sleet pellet. But visibility was more than a 21/2 miles,” he said.
The plane is registered to Blue Sky Airways in Dallas, Ga., according to FAA records. One of the men on board was identified by his cousin, Ronald Rakestraw, as John Rakestraw, a pilot who owned a construction company that had the same address listed on the plane’s registration.
Bert Brantley, a spokesman for Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, said that Rakestraw held a fundraiser for Perdue at his home during the governor’s re-election campaign.
Also on board were Paulding County, Ga., Commissioner Hal Echols and developer Steve Simpson, Robert Butler, Tony Gunter and Frank Ruggiero.
Boyette said resort-bound hunters often fly though the airport, and the plane was the only in-bound flight expected at the airport Friday. A woman who identified herself as a Primland resort manager, but declined to give her name, said the company had no comment on the accident.
Debris from the crass was largely confined to a small area between the two homes. Firefighters and Surry County sheriff’s officials sprayed the site with foam; yellow tape was strung between light poles to block off the site.
“I was in the basement when I heard a loud boom,” neighborhood resident Carl Marshall told The Mount Airy News. “It looks like it just fell out of the sky.”
Darrell Baker, another neighbor, added: “It’s a miracle that no one on the ground was hurt.”