Investigation into deadly plane crash underway in Brazos Co.

December 20, 2011 3:06:14 PM PST
A father and mother, their two children, and an uncle all died when their plane crashed in Brazos County late Monday night. While the family copes with the sudden and tragic loss, federal investigators are focusing their attention on what went wrong.

You can see remnants of this plane and half the engine is lodged into the ground.

This is a Piper PA-32, also called a Cherokee 6. It's a single-engine plane that can seat 6 to 7 passengers. On Monday night, it was carrying a family of five, including two young children, when it crashed. All five people died.

The pilot was a man named Michael Butler, 33, from Georgia. His wife Kelly and their two children -- 14-year-old Brooke and 2-year-old Braden -- were on board as well, along with the pilot's brother, David Butler, 37.

The plane was coming to Waco from Jackson, Mississippi, where it had stopped to refuel. Officials tell us the pilot radioed the tower in Fort Worth reporting bad weather and requested a new flight path, but was told to go in one direction and went in the opposite direction.

The plane broke apart in the air, crashing straight down into a grassy field in Edge, Texas, killing all five people on board.

The family that owns the property on which it crashed made the discovery. Pieces of it were found as far away as 400 yards from the crash scene. Four victims were found inside and another was found 50 yards away.

"They heard the crash. They went outside. The husband grabbed the flashlight and did see some metal out here in the pasture. At that time he got on his tractor and drove the tractor down there and discovered that it was a plane crash and that is when they called 9-1-1," said Cpl. Jimmy Morgan with the Texas Department of Public Safety. "They did say they were obviously trying to figure out if anyone was still alive, but no one was responding to their calls or anything."

The NTSB is on scene beginning its investigation into the background of this pilot -- who we're told was a relatively new pilot as of last year -- the aircraft itself and the exact cause of this deadly crash. We are told that weather may have been a factor in the crash because of the conversation with the pilot.

This type of plane not equipped with a black box. Investigators will not be able to remove this plane until Wednesday at the earliest.

Stay with Eyewitness News and for the latest on this story.

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