Police were trying to piece together if a 23-year-old Bucknell University graduate jumped or fell out of a plane moments before it made an emergency landing with the pilot on board.
Charles Crooks — who was not wearing a parachute — was found in trees in the backyard of a North Carolina home about 30 miles south of Raleigh-Durham International Airport, around 7 p.m. Friday, July 29, the New York Post reports.
Police believe he either jumped or fell approximately 3,500 feet out of the 10-person plane. It was unclear how he died.
The plane had lost its right wheel when it crash landed at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport. The pilot was hospitalized for treatment of minor injuries and then released.
“I believe this was a first for many of us that were working this incident today,” Wake County Emergency Management chief of operations Darshan Patel tells WRAL.
The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.
Crooks graduated from Bucknell in Lewisburg, PA in 2020 with a Bachelor's degree in political science. His dad, Hew Crooks, tells WRAL his son was passionate about flying for quite some time, and got his private pilot license during his sophomore year of college.
"He said a couple weeks ago, he wouldn't trade places with anybody in the world," Hew told the outlet. "He loved where he was."
Crooks' LinkedIn page says he was a certified flight instructor and worked as a pilot for Rampart Aviation, a defense contractor airlift operation.
Previously, he worked as a Marine Engineering Intern for Ridgebury Tankers in Westport, CT, and then as an inventory auditor for RGIS Inventory Specialists Limited in the Williamsport, PA area, his LinkedIn shows.
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