By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal Corinth Bureau
NEW SITE – A federal investigation into the cause of a private airplane crash Sunday that killed three members of a Columbus, Ga., family, continued Monday in the deeply wooded area of north Prentiss County where the plane’s fuselage crashed into the ground off County Road 4111.
While authorities are examining evidence to determine the “why” and “how” of the crash, the University of Mississippi mourns the loss of a young student and a southwest Georgia community mourns a family that was apparently well-respected and loved.
The three people who died aboard the Piper PA-32 plane that crashed about 3 p.m. Sunday were Dr. James Joseph Bartley Jr., 55, his wife Terry Hammond Bartley, 55, and their daughter Caroline Victoria Bartley, 20, all of Columbus, Ga., according to Prentiss County Coroner Greg Sparks.
Caroline Bartley had been a sophomore biology major in the spring semester at Ole Miss and was a member of Alpha Omega Pi sorority, said university spokesman Mitchell Diggs.
Thomas “Sparky” Reardon, UM dean of students, said, “The university is always saddened when we lose one of our students. Caroline was special to many people here and she will be missed. The prayers and thoughts of the entire university family go out to all who were all close to her.”
In the family’s hometown, James Bartley was a podiatrist in a practice with two partners, according to the Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Inquirer.
“They were good people – strong, religious, humanitarians,” partner Dr. Alap Shah told the newspaper. “I learned from him every day.”
Shah said Terry Bartley also worked in the practice in marketing and promotions.
The Bartleys were apparently flying from their vacation home near Andrews, N.C., to Oxford, when they encountered a thunderstorm. A track of the plane’s flight indicates the pilot made several attempts to avoid the storm by traveling in different directions before the plane’s signal suddenly fell off the Memphis radar about 3 p.m.
Two investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board began their work late Monday morning, guided by a map and directions from Emergency Management Director Ralph Lauderdale.
“FAA and NTSB investigators were on the scene all day today,” said Lauderdale. “We completed the search and recovered all remains.”
The NTSB is in charge of investigating the cause of the accident, while the FAA examines whether the aircraft, pilot certifications, air traffic regulations, operations and other factors were in order and functioning properly.
Errol Castens contributed to this story.