North Carolina

Plane missed the runway, never returned. Two found dead after search, NC sheriff says

A small plane tried to land at the Asheboro Regional Airport on Friday night but missed the runway and never returned, according to the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office.

Rescuers searched the central North Carolina county overnight but did not find the wreckage of the plane until the next morning, the sheriff’s office said. The pilot and passenger both died in the crash.

Bryan Andrew Manzer, 61, of Asheboro and Steven Neil Lewis, 30, of Liberty were on their way back from Tennessee when the small plane crashed, according to the sheriff’s office.

IMG_0498 plane.JPG
Searchers found the wreckage of the plane the day after it went missing. The pilot and passenger died, according to the sheriff’s office. Randolph County Sheriff's Office

“Authorities and witnesses at the airport reported that a plane, containing the pilot and one passenger, coming in from Tennessee flew over the runway at 8:30 pm, to make his landing approach. Witnesses reported that the plane flew past the tree line out of sight and did not return,” the sheriff’s office said.

State and local authorities searched until about 2:30 a.m. Saturday before rain and the dark night shut down the efforts, the sheriff’s office said. They started searching again about two hours later with new information from the Air Force and data from the victims’ cellphones.

Rescuers found the plane near Southwestern Randolph High School, according to the sheriff. The National Transportation Safety Board went to the site over the weekend to investigate the crash.

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Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.
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