UPDATE: Small plane crash in Cherokee Co, pilot dead

CHEROKEE COUNTY (KYTX) - A Jacksonville woman is killed in a plane crash at the Cherokee County Airport Sunday night.

Family friends at the scene of the crash told CBS 19's Courtney Friedman, 60-year-old Deborah Birch died at ETMC Jacksonville around 7:00. It's an interview you'll only see on CBS 19 News:

Mangled metal, and a seat of a single engine plane, poke through the ceiling of a Cherokee County Airport hangar

Close family friend Jerry Ayers stood at the scene in disbelief of what had just happened. He said, "She seemed to be doing a great job. We don't know what happened here. Just don't know."

60-year-old Deborah Birch went up in her private plane Sunday evening just before 5:00 for her second-ever solo flight.

Department of Public Safety Trooper Patrick Dark said, "She started to gain altitude and a witness said for whatever reason the plane stalled and she came down and struck a hangar and flipped over and the plane lodged between two hangars."

There were people on the ground who saw the crash, including Deborah's husband, Richard Birch.

Dark says Birch was stuck in the plane, out of reach.

"It was lodged up there between the hangars about 30 feet so no body could get to her," he said.

Dark said by the time firefighters brought a ladder and got her down, her injuries were too serious. Ayers tells CBS 19 Birch died at ETMC in Jacksonville.

"Deborah and her husband Richard are just very good friends," Ayers said. "We've known each other for several years. They just bought the plane about a year ago and she was just learning to fly. She had just soloed and she was just doing wonderful."

Ayers says Deborah Birch was a retired teacher.

"She was a wonderful lady," he said, "loved to have fun, she and her husband traveled a lot, they went a lot of places in their plane and she was looking forward to being a pilot too, along with him."

He stands stunned, looking at the pieces of the plane, hoping for answers.

"Tragic thing," he said. "They're such sweet people. She just was a lovely woman. Beautiful lady."

DPS Troopers, and the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department waited at the scene until FAA agents arrived to investigate what caused the crash.


CHEROKEE COUNTY (KYTX) - The Cherokee County Sheriff's Department has confirmed with CBS 19 that there was a small plane crash this afternoon.

The crash happened at the Cherokee County Airport near Rusk. The Sheriff's Department says a single-engine plane with one person on board crashed at the airport. The person was injured and taken to a local hospital, but the extent of the injuries are not known at this time.

Two DPS officers are on scene of the crash now, and we're told the FAA is also on its way to investigate.

We have a reporter on route and will have more information as it becomes available at www.cbs19.tv.



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