September 3, 2007 in Nation/World

Five ministers killed in Tennessee plane crash

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review
 

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. – A plane carrying five Jehovah’s Witness ministers crashed in a remote area of eastern Tennessee, killing all aboard, officials said.

The crash, which happened around 10:30 a.m. Saturday, wasn’t discovered until more than eight hours later, when another pilot spotted the wreckage.

Authorities had to clear a path Sunday to get to the crash site in the Cherokee National Forest on Holston Mountain. Five bodies were found, said Carter County Sheriff Chris Mathes. One of the ministers was believed to be the pilot, he said.

The single-engine Beech Bonanza crashed after leaving the Elizabethton Municipal Airport, officials said. The aircraft had taken off from Hamblen County and landed in Elizabethton to pick up two passengers.

It was destined for Virginia Highlands Airport near Abingdon, Va., about 40 miles from Elizabethton.

Robert Burpitt, an elder with the Woodland Heights congregation of Jehovah’s Witness in Kingsport, said the ministers were all from eastern Tennessee. Their names of were not released.

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