RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A 911 call released Tuesday afternoon by the City of Raleigh provides new insight into the emergency landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Friday in which a man was found dead after exiting the plane mid-flight.
The call, which came in at 2:34 p.m. Friday, was made by an unnamed staff member of the FAA air traffic control tower at RDU.
“We have a pilot that was inbound to the field. His co-pilot jumped out of the aircraft. He made impact to the ground and here are the coordinates,” the FAA staff member told a 911 dispatcher.
“He literally just said, ‘my pilot just jumped out,’” the FAA official can be heard saying. “I’ve never heard anything… this is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.”
You can listen to the full audio below.
For several minutes, the caller and dispatcher exchanged coordinates in an attempt to narrow down the exact location of the reported jump by the co-pilot, Charles Crooks.
Crooks’ body was later found dead in the Sonoma Springs Neighborhood, roughly 30 miles south of the airport.
While the 911 call says Crooks jumped from the plane at least four times, questions remain about where the jump actually occurred.
The control tower originally pegged the location as Cary and later said it was near West Lake Middle School, which is in Apex. This is roughly 10 miles north of where Crooks was found.
Additionally, the 911 call released coordinates that would’ve had Crooks jump in Johnston County just south of Four Oaks, 30 miles southeast of the Sonoma Springs Neighborhood.
“All we can do is recovery at this point,” FAA personnel said on the phone with 911. “I mean, I don’t know…I’ve never heard…This is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.”
Still, investigators have not confirmed that Crooks intentionally jumped at this time despite the context of the call.
CBS News Transportation Safety Analyst and former Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board Robert Sumwalt tells WFXR’s sister station, WNCN, that the plane, a CASA C-212 Aviocar, is a rare aircraft typically used for parachute drop operations.
Since the model is often used for parachute drop operations, it typically has a large door toward the rear of the plane that parachuters drop out of.
The surviving pilot was taken to a nearby hospital, where officials said he was okay. Authorities have interviewed the unidentified pilot and turned that information over to federal officials now leading the investigation.
The National Transportation and Safety Board, as well as the FAA, remains investigating this emergency landing.