METZ, W.Va. (AP) — Three people who died when a small plane crashed in West Virginia earlier this month were returning from a day trip on church business in Indiana when it went down in a severe thunderstorm, authorities said.
The single-engine plane was flying from Washington, Indiana, to Myerstown, Pennsylvania, when it went down on Aug. 11 in the Marion County community of Metz, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary report.
According to air traffic control communications, the pilot and a controller were discussing a line of storms and ways to get around it. The plane entered an area of light precipitation when communications with the pilot stopped. The rainfall became heavier over the next six miles (10 kilometers) until reaching extreme intensity, the report said.
The plane went into a steep, descending turn that continued until tracking data was lost. The wreckage was found in a hilly, wooded area an hour after the accident.
The plane had undergone an annual inspection the day before the crash, the report said.
The Marion County sheriff’s office has not released the names of the crash victims. A message left with Sheriff Jimmy Riffle wasn’t immediately returned Thursday.
Metz is about 90 miles (145 kilometers) south of Pittsburgh.