Recovery efforts to recover body of pilot who crashed plane into Lake Hartwell temporarily suspended

WNEG News has learned efforts to recover the body of the pilot killed Saturday when his plane crashed into Lake Hartwell have been temporarily suspended.

According to Hart County Sheriff Mike Cleveland, the National Transportation Safety Board is looking for equipment needed to pull the aircraft high enough out of the trees for divers to access the doors so they can get the body of the pilot out.

The NTSB is in charge of recovery efforts. Because the plane is tangled in tree branches 120 feet below the surface, divers could not get the plane’s doors open. However, divers were able to confirm the body of the pilot is still in the plane, according to the Sheriff.

Cleveland said he is not sure what kind of equipment they are looking for exactly, but he did say there isn’t any kind of equipment on either the Georgia or South Carolina side that would do the job.

He noted that in the past, he has seen a barge on the lake moving gravel and heavy equipment that he thought might be instrumental in moving the plane, but he is not sure who owns it.

The pilot’s identity has yet to be released pending notification of next of kin.

Cleveland says they do know the pilot was flying from Punta Gorda, Florida to Anderson Regional Airport in Anderson, SC.

It will likely take time before the NTSB can release the exact cause of the crash.

WNEG News will continue to follow this story and will update it as more information becomes available.