3 dead when 2 planes collide in air at small Georgia airport

A Carroll County Fire official walks past the debris of a plane crash at West Georgia Regional Airport in Carrollton, Ga., Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016. Carroll County Fire Chief Scott Blue says two single-engine planes may have been trying to land at the same time when they collided at the small airport in western Georgia leaving three people dead. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

CARROLLTON, Ga. (AP) — Three people died Wednesday after two small airplanes collided in midair at a rural airport in western Georgia, where one witness told authorities the pilots may have been trying to land at the same time.

The single-engine planes crashed just before 11 a.m. near the end of the lone runway at West Georgia Regional Airport, said Carroll County Fire Chief Scott Blue. The airport is located in Carrollton, about 45 miles west of Atlanta.

The dead were two men and one woman, Carroll County Chief Deputy Coroner Ed Baskin said. The woman and a man were in one plane and the second man was alone in the other plane, he said.

Baskin said the names of the dead were being withheld until their families have been notified.

The cause of the deadly collision was under investigation. But Blue said a witness reported the planes looked like they were attempting to land simultaneously.

“Another pilot in the air said it appeared that both of them were trying to land and one came on top of the other,” Blue told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “At this point in time we can’t really confirm that.”

The Federal Aviation Administration said both were single-engine airplanes — a Diamond Aircraft DA20C1 and a Beech F33A.

Blue said a lone pilot was killed in the Beech aircraft registered in College Park, about 40 miles east of the airport. A pilot and passenger died onboard the Diamond plane, which the fire chief said was registered to a company that trains pilots in Newnan, 22 miles to the southeast.

No one survived the crash.

First responders found the wreckage of the two planes all twisted and mixed together.

“Our unit when they first came thought it was one plane,” Blue said. “They were intermixed so much it was hard to identify two planes at first.”

The Federal Aviation Administration said it was investigating the crash in conjunction with the National Transportation Safety Board, which will determine the official cause.

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