Thursday, March 31, 2011

Winston-Salem Doctor, Pilot Killed in Plane Crash

Winston-Salem Doctor, Pilot Killed in Plane Crash

Pilot's identity to be released pending notification of family

Winston-Salem Doctor, Pilot Killed in Plane Crash
Dr. Thomas Littlejohn III (WGHP)
Officials have identified one of the victims killed in a plane crash in High Point on Wednesday.

The pilot and passenger Dr. Thomas Littlejohn III of Winston-Salem were killed after a small plane crashed into a house short of the PTI runway on Wednesday, FAA officials said. The pilot's identity has still not been released.

PHOTOS | AUDIO: Air Traffic Control | 911 Call

NTSB air safety investigator Dennis J. Diaz identified the aircraft as a Beechcraft Baron 58 with tail number N569JL. The flight, operated by Jet Logistics of Charlotte, was an on-demand charter flight from Wilmington to Winston-Salem, but was diverted to Greensboro due to bad weather, FAA officials said.

Roger Littlejohn said his brother was returning from a business trip to Wilmington.

Dr. Littlejohn was president and medical director of PMG Research, which has offices in Winston-Salem, Wilmington and seven other locations in North Carolina and Tennessee.

Dr. Littlejohn was featured in a 2009 Buckley Report.

Dr. Littlejohn practiced at Maplewood Family Practice in Winston-Salem. He had more than 20 years experience in clinical research and had a national reputation. Maplewood colleague Dr. Tom Cannon released a statement on Thursday:

We are very saddened by the tragic loss of Dr. Thomas Littlejohn, III, treasured friend, colleague, and co-founder of Maplewood Family Practice. He was a gifted physician, astute businessman, and excellent medical partner. We will miss him greatly, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

PMG officials said they were too upset to comment on Dr. Littlejohn's loss.

Sochan Rumthao and his three elementary school-aged children escaped the home uninjured. Rumthao gave an eyewitness account for the first time on Thursday.

AUDIO: 911 Calls
911 Call: "A house just blew up."
911 Call | Plane Crash: #1
911 Call | Plane Crash: #2
911 Call | Plane Crash: #3

The crash occurred at 5:47 p.m. Wednesday on Brian Hollars Court and Dairy Point Drive in the Frazier Downs neighborhood near Interstate 40.

Diaz said the plane first hit trees 1/2 mile before the crash site and clipped one home about six feet off the ground before crashing into Rumthao's home. No one was in the other home at the time of the crash.

NTSB investigators arrived in High Point around noon Thursday to investigate the crash. They will spend 2-3 days on site and release a preliminary report in 5-10 days, Diaz said. A full investigation usually takes 9-12 months, Diaz said.

Diaz said weather is part of the investigation, but he said he had not yet completely reviewed the weather data. At the time of the crash, visibility near the airport was just 1/4 mile 100 feet above the ground, National Weather Service officials said.

The plane was on a flight plan involving instrument flight rules, normally used during adverse weather or periods of low visibility, Diaz said.

The plane did not have a black box, as planes that small are not required to by law, Diaz said.

View High Point Plane Crash in a larger map

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