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In 911 call, air traffic controllers say co-pilot “jumped” from plane that made emergency landing in North Carolina

A 911 call from air traffic controllers indicates that a the co-pilot may have jumped from a crashed plane before the other pilot made an emergency landing in North Carolina, according to a recording of the call released Tuesday.

It’s not clear exactly how or why Charles Hew Crooks, 23, got out of the small cargo plane Friday afternoon about 30 miles south of Raleigh-Durham International Airport. He had no parachute and his body was found in a yard in Fuquay-Varina.

Two unnamed Federal Aviation Administration employees are heard telling a 911 dispatcher that the plane was headed for the airport. The pilot had apparently told them that his co-pilot “jumped out of the aircraft”. CBS affiliate WNCN-TV mentionted,

“We have a pilot coming into the field,” a controller told the 911 dispatcher, according to WNCN. “His co-pilot jumped out of the aircraft. He hit the ground and here are the coordinates.”

The call lasted about 13 minutes, with controllers reporting several times that the co-pilot had jumped.

Investigators have yet to confirm that Crooks intentionally jumped at this time despite the context of the 911 call, WNCN reported.

Wake County Emergency Management Director of Operations Darshan Patel said the initial 911 call led to the search for Crooks.

“All we can do is recover at this point,” FAA personnel said on the phone to 911, according to WNCN. “I mean, I don’t know… I’ve never heard… That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.”

The plane sustained significant damage to its landing gear and fuselage, according to preliminary information gathered by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Crooks’ father, Hew Crooks, he told WRAL-TV that his son had been working as a flight instructor for over a year.

“He said a few weeks ago, he wouldn’t trade places with anyone in the world. He loved where he was,” she told the station, adding: “I can’t imagine what happened.”

The investigation is ongoing.

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