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Plane Crash Remains in RV Park Residents’ Minds

January 24, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

The wreckage of an airplane has been removed, and the debris has been collected in a yellow Dumpster. But the memories of the crash that killed the plane’s pilot and a woman in her camper just five days before continued to hang over those staying at the Briarcliffe RV Resort in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., on Saturday (Jan. 21), the Myrtle Beach Sun News reported.

“Everybody’s just coping with it,” said Larry Irwin, who’s been staying at the RV park with his wife, Linda, since August.

Tuesday’s fatal crash is “still so surreal,” said Linda Irwin of Charlotte, N.C., who had been at the nearby Myrtle Beach Mall when the plane crashed into the camper trailer owned by a couple from Sunapee, N.H.

“I think we’re coming to terms with it,” she said. “We’re coping with it, settling down and realize it’s not a bad dream.”

Larry Irwin was inside the couple’s trailer when the crash happened just after 1 p.m. Tuesday at the RV park on North Kings Highway.

Linda Irwin said she saw smoke when she left the mall and called her husband.

“I was so scared,” Linda Irwin said. ” I asked him if it was a fire and he said a plane crashed.”

Linda Irwin – who saw flames when she got to the park – said they and friends joked over the years about the planes flying so low, but she never thought one would crash.

“I just feel bad for the families and the victims,” Linda Irwin said.

The crash killed the 62-year- old pilot, Kenneth Charles Thode, and 70-year-old Eva Sullivan, who was in a camper with her husband when the plane struck. Her husband, Thomas Sullivan, suffered first-degree burns. He was taken to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center and has been released.

Kathleen Bergen, spokeswoman from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has said Thode crashed after a take-off maneuver he was practicing.

Thode, who received his Private Pilot, Airplane Single Engine airman certificate on Oct. 23, 2004, has no history of accidents, incidents or enforcements, according to a search of the FAA Accident/Incident Data System and Enforcement Information System.

The crash remains under investigation, and it could take up to a year before a probable cause is released, according to National Transportation Safety Board investigators.

On Saturday morning, several residents pitched in to help the park’s maintenance clean up debris at the crash site, said resident Steven Bose, of Westerlo, N.Y., who’s been a member at the park since 1990.

In a couple of hours, they had the debris in the Dumpster, said Bose, who noted that some yellow, red and pink flowers at the site were put there by Eva Sullivan’s family members.

“Every time I hear an airplane, I want to run out the door,” said Rose McRobie, who stays with her husband, Bob, in a trailer across the street from the crash site. The couple from Oakland, Md., recalled hearing a boom and feeling the ground shake from their trailer when the crash happened.

“If [the plane] had been 5 feet higher it would have hit us, but it wasn’t my turn to go,” Bob McRobie said.

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