North Carolina Man Accused of Stealing Plane and Crashing It

by nph | August 17th, 2011

This Piper PA32 crashed in North Carolina. Authorities believe it was stolen prior to the crash.

This Piper PA32 crashed in North Carolina. Authorities believe it was stolen prior to the crash.

August 17, 2011

A 46-year-old Chapel Hill, North Carolina, man is accused of stealing a Piper PA32 airplane and crashing it in Graham, North Carolina.

The Alamance County Sheriff’s Office says it believes the man stole the plane from the Horace Williams Airport in Chapel Hill sometime between 9 p.m. Monday and 6 a.m. Tuesday, according to NBC17. The plane was then found crashed in a wooded area in Graham, North Carolina, around 12:45 p.m. on Tuesday.

“What it appears is the plane just came out of the sky in a circular motion crashing here,” said Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson. “[H]ad it come straight in, we’d probably found the pilot in the plane.”

The plane’s owner, who last saw the plane on Monday night, said the plane had one full fuel tank and one empty fuel tank and that he suspects the thief didn’t know how to switch to the other tank when one ran out.

Police are looking for the thief in the Durham-Chapel Hill area after they believe he crawled out of a window and escaped into the woods.

“Probably three and a half, four miles through the woods here,” said Johnson. “Our dogs tracked [him] to an intersection of Snow Camp Road and Highway 87 South, which is our Eli Whitney community, which is the way an individual would go back to Chapel Hill from this area.”

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Do you think the airport should be held liable for this plane theft?

If you or someone you know has had their safety compromised on a commercial or private aircraft, the aviation lawyers at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy can help.