Plane Crash Investigation Continues

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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV)-- UPDATE 11 A.M.: Virginia State Police sent out this press release on Monday morning:

Virginia State Police investigated a fatal plane crash that claimed one life. The crash occurred northwest of the City of Harrisonburg in Rockingham County on November 8, 2014 at approximately 7 p.m.

The plane was conducting a cross country instructional flight and had a pilot and student pilot onboard. The flight originated in Frederick MD and had flown to Martinsburg WV and then to Winchester VA. The plane’s then headed to its final destination of Hot Springs VA. The last contact with the plane was at approximately 7 p.m. on the November 8. The plane was reported overdue and a search was initiated.

The plane was located on November 9, 2014, and the Virginia State Police were called to the scene at 6:57 a.m. The crashed site is at a remote location 5 miles north of Rt. 33 within the George Washington National Forrest. The plane involved was a 2003 Cessna 172S single-engine, fixed-wing aircraft small plane that was owned by Victor Tango Aviation LLC of Wilmington, Delaware.

State Police along with the FAA and NTSB are still in the process of determining the cause of the crash. The Virginia State Police were also assisted by resources from the Rockingham County EMS, Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Forrest Service.

The Pilot is identified as Bernhard Helmut Charlemagne, Age 49 of Frederick Maryland. Mr. Charlemagne died at the scene in the crash.

The Student Pilot is identified as John Smith Hicks, Age 51 of Monrovia Maryland. Mr. Hicks was transported to University of Virginia Medical Center.

The crash and the causative factors are still under investigation by Trooper H. L. Stover of the Virginia State Police and the FAA and NTSB.

UPDATE 4:40 P.M.: Rescue crews from all over Rockingham County spent several hours braving the cold and wilderness in a remote area of the George Washington Forest to find the victims and survivors of the plane crash. The U.S. Air Force first identified that there was a crash in the mountains.

Crews say they used their best tactics to get the victims out of the forest.

"Every incident is unique in some way," said, Casey Mork, a rescue crew member, "The terrain just made it very difficult this time."

Mork says the rescue was a challenging task.

"It was definitely tough," said Mork. "Even with the coordinates getting to the right spot in a timely manner, it took a while to get up there with the terrain and the brush and the down trees and everything else."

Crews rescued 51-year-old John Hicks from Maryland. He was flying the plane with his instructor, Bernhard Charlemagne, who did not survive the crash, in a remote area over a mountain in the George Washington Forest, when it went down.

Hicks suffered a sprained ankle, and was conscious when rescue crews reached him.

"He was talking to us on the way down, we readjusted him a couple of times in our packaging trying to make him more comfortable, as comfortable as he can be," said Mork.

Mork says that even though a life was lost, he's grateful he was able to at least save one.

"It's always great to be able to help someone like that and get them the help they need, the medical attention they need so it's definitely rewarding," said Mork.

Another team went up earlier in the day to get the body of the instructor. Virginia State Police confirm they still do not know why the plane went down.

The crash remains under investigation.


UPDATE 4:30 P.M.: Virginia State Police confirm that the crash killed the 50-year-old instructor of the plane, and sent 51-year-old John Hicks, to UVA Medical

The plane took off from Frederick, Md., headed to southwest Virginia, just before 7 a.m. on Nov. 9. State police were called to the scene of the crash in a remote area of the George Washington Forest, after they located a signal from the downed plane.

This crash is still under investigation. Right now, WHSV is working to find out the cause of the crash.

UPDATE: 1:45 P.M.: Virginia State Police confirm one person is dead after the plane which reportedly crashed in Rockingham County.

The survivor, 51-year-old John Hicks, has been airlifted to the hospital with an ankle injury.


Emergency crews are searching for a plane that reportedly crashed in Rockingham County early Sunday morning.

Dispatchers with the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Emergency Communications Center received a call for the crash about 7 a.m.

Crews have not reached the crash scene and it's unclear what type of plane and how many people were in it.

Emergency crews say they believe the crash site is in western Rockingham County, near Fulks Run.

We have a reporter headed to the scene.

Check back with throughout the day for more information on this breaking news story.

Courtesy Clover Hill Fire & Rescue
Courtesy Clover Hill Fire & Rescue
Courtesy Clover Hill Fire & Rescue
Courtesy Clover Hill Fire & Rescue