Investigation Continues Into Fatal Rabun Plane Crash

July 29, 2014

By Charles Robertson, WRBN Radio, Clayton

ems plane wreckOfficials from multiple agencies are investigating a plane crash over the weekend in Rabun County that took the life of the pilot.

Rabun County Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Mazarky said the plane crashed at about 9 a.m. on Saturday.

“There is one fatality,” said Mazarky. “The plane is sitting in a heavily wooded area. FAA and NTSB, it is going to be their scene when they get here and they will do all the investigation for the aircraft.”

Rabun County Coroner Sam Beck identified the pilot who was killed as Ernest Merkelis of Clayton.

Accessnorthga.com reports Merkelis’ age to be 62 years old.

Authorities in Rabun County said the plane took off from Heaven’s Landing in Rabun County.

According to its website, Heaven’s Landing is a gated community with a private runway for airplanes located about three miles northwest of the city of Clayton.

Those authorities said the plan was headed for Chicago and struck a mountain top shortly after take off.

People at the air strip described the conditions when the plane took off as “low visibility.”

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