Runner on beach killed when plane made emergency landing

HILTON HEAD, S.C. — A Georgia man was running and listening to his iPod on the beach on Hilton Head Island when he was struck and killed by an airplane that made an emergency landing Monday near Palmetto Dunes, the Beaufort County Coroner's Office said Tuesday.

The victim was identified as Robert Gary Jones, 38, of Woodstock, Ga. Authorities say he probably did not see or hear the plane coming down because it had no power.

The single-engine airplane made an emergency landing near Palmetto Dunes at about 6:10 p.m. Monday. The pilot was Edward Smith, 62, of Chesapeake, Va., according to a Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office report.

The plane experienced engine trouble over the water about an hour and a half after leaving Orlando Executive Airport in Florida, bound for Norfolk, Va. The aircraft was flying at about 13,000 feet when air traffic controllers told the pilot to land at Hilton Head Island Airport.

But before Smith and his passenger, who has not been identified, reached the island, oil began to leak onto the windshield, blocking their vision, said Joheida Fister, Hilton Head Island Fire and Rescue Division spokeswoman.

The plane’s propeller came off. The men decided to make an emergency landing on the beach, she said. They were not injured.

The plane — a fixed-wing Lancair IV-P — is registered to Smith, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The men were taken from the scene to the Sheriff’s Office, and arrangements were to have been made for them to stay in the area to speak to investigators, Fister said.

Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the FAA’s Atlanta regional office, said the pilot reported a problem with the aircraft to an air traffic facility in Hilliard, Fla. Air traffic controllers handed the pilot off to the Marine Corps Approach Control Center in Beaufort, where he was directed to land at Hilton Head Island Airport, according to Bergen.

The landing occurred north of the Hilton Head Marriott Resort and Spa at Palmetto Dunes near Armada Street, about three miles from the island’s airport.

Flight records show the plane left Orlando Executive Airport at 4:45 p.m. and was to arrive at Hampton Roads Executive Airport at 7:38 p.m. The plane flew from Hampton Roads to Orlando Executive early Monday morning, departing at 6:55 a.m. and arriving in Florida at about 9:30 a.m.

Read the full story at