Plane crash kills two in Alcorn County

HATCHIE BOTTOM – Investigators are expected to be on the scene today to investigate the crash of a small plane that killed the pilot and passenger Tuesday morning in southwest Alcorn County.
The Associated Press identified the crash victims as Atlanta businessman James “Jim” Judson Jr. and his wife, Elizabeth Judson.
In an interview with the AP, Jim Judson Sr. described Judson Jr. as a successful businessman in the Atlanta area and member of the Wake Forest University Board of Trustees.
The couple had been in Memphis to watch their daughter, a University of Southern Mississippi student, play in a golf tournament, Judson Sr. said.
Judson Jr. made a fortune when he sold his computer software company, Witness Systems Inc., his father said. He also served on the board of directors of CreditHawk LLC, according to the company’s website.
The victims’ bodies were found after debris from a Beechcraft Bonanza was discovered by workers at Eaton Farm as they went to work. As they began looking around, they spotted the wing of a plane in a field of hay near the equipment barn.
“At first we thought it was just some tin in the road,” said Eddie Michaels, one of the workers.
That was on the south side of County Road 561 in an Alcorn County community known as Hatchie Bottom.
When Michaels and others at the farm extended their search across the road and up a hill in a beanfield soon to be harvested, they found another piece of airplane wing, along with the bodies of both crash victims.
“We found the woman first, but we found him pretty quick,” he said. “They were about 100 yards apart,” and both were still strapped in their seats.
Other items were found scattered in a wide area, including a suitcase in the back yard of a home beside the hayfield, where the electrical cord for a laptop computer was found in the front yard.
Coroner Dan Leeth said their bodies would be taken to Jackson for an autopsy today.
The Alcorn County Sheriff’s Office received a call Tuesday morning that the wing of a plane had been found in a farm field, said Sheriff Charles Rinehart, and he was joined by deputies and investigators in conducting a search.
A Beechcraft Bonanza airplane that left the Olive Branch airport about 9:30 a.m. headed for the DeKalb-Peachtree Airport near Atlanta was reported missing, said Joseph Perry of the Corinth-Alcorn County Airport.
Officials believe periodic violent storm bursts across Northeast Mississippi contributed to the crash, but Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board investigators are expected to pursue their investigation today into the cause of the crash.
Large pieces of the plane still had not been located late Tuesday, Rinehart said, including the engine, tail and cabin.
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@djournal.com.

Click here for photo gallery from NEMS Daily Journal chief photographer Thomas Wells from the crash scene.

Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal