A small plane crash landed on a Boone golf course Monday afternoon, according to Watauga County communications.
Officials said three people were on the Piper PA-32 aircraft when it crashed on the Boone Golf Club course around 1 p.m. Authorities say the crash site is just northwest of Runway 13 at the Boone Airport.
Emergency officials said the two of the three victims were airlifted to area hospitals, one of whom is said to have severe burns. Both surviving victims are said to have suffered serious injuries.
One person, Benjamin Franklin Chappell, 69, of Boone, died of injuries sustained in the crash and was pronounced deceased on the scene.
Boone Police say Chappell is a retired state trooper with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, and was stationed out of Watauga County.
The two surviving victims have been identified as 68-year-old John Field Worsley, II, of Lenoir, and Steven Cox Berry, 43, of Banner Elk. Both Worsley and Berry are listed in critical condition at Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem.
“We are deeply saddened by this tragic event. Everyone in law enforcement in Watauga County knows Ben Chappell and his family. It is difficult to have to work a scene where all of us know at least one of the victims. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Chappell family at this time. We also want to wish the very best to Mr. Worsley and Mr. Berry and are praying for a speedy recovery for them and for the comfort of their families, said Boone Police Chief Dana Crawford.
According to Boone Police, the single-engine aircraft took off from the Boone Airport and crashed moments later. Witnesses on the golf course reported the plane appeared to be in distress, clipping several trees before crashing onto the golf course.
Two witnesses-turned-rescuers were able to assist the two surviving victims out of the plane.
Mike Howell shot video of firefighters trying to put out the flames before the plane exploded.
“I thought, ‘Gosh, these guys have got families,'” Howell said. “It really shocked me to see the severity of it.”
It also shocked Alden Lee and Jacob Wooldridge who were at a friend’s home when they saw a plane flying low before hearing a loud crashing sound.
“It’s pretty surreal,” Wooldridge said.
“It’s just like a movie,” Lee added. “It’s insane.”
The Boone Police Department conducted an initial investigation, however, the FAA and the NTSB will be responding and assuming control over the investigation.
Boone Police, Boone Fire, Watauga County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina Highway Patrol all responded to the scene.