, 2015

Plane crashes after takeoff
from Hummel Field; two die

by Larry Chowning

TOPPING—On Sunday, July 6, at about 4:45 p.m., the “sputtering” sound of an airplane struggling to stay in the air could be heard throughout neighborhoods along Locklies Creek Road, just a short distance from Hummel Field at Topping.

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Members of the Hartfield Volunteer Fire Department work at the crash scene in Topping.

The loud “thump” that followed brought neighbors rushing outside where they discovered a small single-engine 1968 Cessna 150 aircraft had crashed “propeller first” into the ground.

On impact, the deadly crash took the life of the pilot, Stephen L. Myers, 58, of Christiansburg. The passenger in the plane, Misty Dawn McIntyre, 48, of Newport, was med-flighted to a Norfolk hospital with serious injuries. She died of her injuries on Monday, said Virginia State Police spokesperson Sgt. M. Anaya.

First on the crash scene was Bunky Revere, owner of the property where the plane went down. Revere and his wife assisted McIntyre as best they could. “She had a severe cut on her throat that most likely came from the seatbelt that had slipped up around her neck,” said Revere. “It did not look good for her to me, and it looked like the man was already dead. It was a very sad scene.”

The Middlesex County Volunteer Rescue Squad of Deltaville responded to the crash scene. The rescue squad transported McIntyre to Hummel Field to be med-flighted to Norfolk.

News photographers and neighbors were asked not to go on the back side of the plane where Myers’ body was tangled in the wreckage, and were not allowed to take photos until the State Police arrived. The State Police allowed photos to be taken on the front side of the plane, but no photos could be taken on the back side.

An eyewitness to the crash, Anne Jones, who lives next door to the crash site, said she was sitting on her deck talking to her sister on a cell phone when she noticed that a plane had just taken off, but it looked very low. “I told my sister . . . it didn’t sound like other planes when they take off. It sounded as if the plane was sputtering, almost coughing,” she said.

“As I continued talking to my sister, I watched the plane circle over our house from north to south, but it was flying much, much lower than other planes,” Jones said. “It completed the circle, but it looked as if it was flying back to the airport. It was still very low and the engine continued to make the sputtering noise.

“I thought the plane was going to land, but it didn’t. It began to make another loop, but this time, I told my sister, ‘I think the plane is going to crash!’ “ said Jones.

“As it was making the second loop, it disappeared behind the trees in my view, and it sounded like the engine had cut off. Within about 4 to 5 seconds, I heard a horrible thump. It wasn’t an explosion, just a very loud thump!

“I ran in the house and told my mom that a plane had crashed and for her to call 911,” continued Jones. “She picked up the phone to call just as our scanner said that a plane went down in the field behind Eckhard’s Restaurant. I grabbed towels and a fire extinguisher and my mom and I got in the car.

“As we drove toward Route 3, we passed a field next to our house and then we saw the plane. It was between our neighbor’s driveway and a row of pine trees. A woman was laying on the ground on a tarp and there was another woman working on her. I could hear her moaning. The whole area was so quiet, you could have heard a pin drop,” said Jones.

“Someone in the crowd said the pilot was still in the plane and they thought he was dead. The plane looked like it had buckled in the middle and there was some debris sitting next to the plane.

“Rescue vehicles were on the way because we could hear the sirens, so we got back in our car and left to go home,” said Jones. “It was a very tight area and we didn’t want to be in the way, but it was so sad. It almost looked like the plane just fell out of the sky.”

Doris Rogers, who lives just down the road from the crash site, said, “The plane was heading south flying very low over Hummel Field, when it circled heading back north toward the bridge.  

“The plane circled again flying very low making a left bank turn toward Locklies Creek Road,” she said. “I knew it was in trouble because it was flying so low. I was watching because I was afraid it was going to hit the trees, but it cleared the trees and power lines and took a nose dive into Bunky Revere’s field.”

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and State Police are investigating the crash.

The Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office and the Hartfield Volunteer Fire Department also responded to the crash scene.

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