New Year's Eve turned tragic Friday afternoon when a medical helicopter and a single-engine airplane collided in mid-air around 2:30, causing the plane to spiral out of control and crash into the ground in northern Augusta County.
Two Shenandoah Valley residents in the 1967 single-engine Cessna 172L were killed and their bodies were recovered from the wreckage in a farm field a half-mile from the Weyers Cave Airport, located just off I-81 halfway between Harrisonburg and Staunton, Va. Late Saturday afternoon authorities identified the victims as Jason Allen Long, 32, of Edinburg, and Jacob Houston Kiser, 19, of Grottoes.
None of the three passengers in the AirCare 5 helicopter were injured and it was able to land safely at the airport.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the airplane was registered to Michael W. Price of Elkton but that he was not on the plane.
The Waynesboro News Virginian reported:
A witness described a glancing blow that knocked off the airplane’s left wing. Impact with the ground destroyed the Cessna, authorities said, and left debris on both sides of Route 256. Authorities did not identify those who were killed. The damaged Eurocopter EC135, returning from the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, landed safely with three crew members aboard, authorities said. Helicopter instructor Mark Huntley said he was working on his aircraft in an airport hanger when he heard the collision. “I saw the helicopter come in and … it wasn’t pretty,” he said. Huntley said the pilot of the helicopter did an “amazing job” of landing.
Weather conditions in the area on Friday were warm with temperatures in the 50s and partly sunny.