There are new developments in Wednesday afternoon's deadly plane crash in Cochran County. The pilot, Thomas Joseph Taylor of Abilene, 61; and both passengers, Matthew Axtell From Basalt, Colorado, 35; and David Bradley Patton, 51, of Colorado were killed in the crash.
The plane, a 1985 PIPER PA-46-310P, was a fixed wing single engine aircraft with six seats. The owner is Flying Lazy T LLC out of Abilene.
The crash happened around 4:30 p.m., south of Morton, near Highway 214 and Highway 125. The area is about one hour west of Lubbock.
Cochran County Sheriff Raymond Weber said the plane was headed from Aspen to Brenham, Texas, west of Houston and got caught in the storm. They were communicating with the Lubbock airport when they went down.
On Thursday afternoon around 2 p.m., Jennifer Rodi, an air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board began her investigation into the crash.
"We arrived on scene and we were able to do a preliminary examination. We will be on scene for the next couple of days examining the wreckage and looking for any signs of mechanical anomalies and trying to piece together and understand what exactly happened during this accident," Rodi said.
A neighbor who lives directly across from the pasture where this plane crashed said there were terrible storms in the area, with strong winds reaching 40 miles per hour and ping pong sized hail.
He said the weather was so bad, his family had to pull the car over just about two miles from his home, something Cochran County Sheriff believes impacted this flight.
"The weather could potentially play a role. What's important to take into consideration is what the weather is doing on the ground can be significantly different than what the weather is where the pilot is actually flying," Rodi said.
Rodi said the plane was flying at 27,000 feet at one point during the flight.
"We don't have flat data recorders or cockpit voice recorders or the known black boxes on board this particular airplane, however, there may be the potential for non volatile memory or smaller devices that will store recorded data from the flight that would be beneficial," Rodi explained.
She said while the onsite preliminary examination will take a couple of days, the investigation could actually take up to ten months or a year.
"We don't want to rush anything, we don't want to miss anything important, especially if it has the possibility to impact safety for other pilots and other aircraft," Rodi said.
She said the aircraft is scheduled to be moved on Monday.