Wreckage from fatal Lake Hartwell plane crash stuck 100ft underwater

Cleveland said it did not expect the plane to be recovered until Tuesday at the earliest due to the unusually complex operation required to remove the wreckage from the crash site in deep water. Georgia State Patrol divers attempted to assist the Hart County Dive Team, but the state agency’s own policies prevent divers from descending below 100 feet, Cleveland said.

The FAA initially described the plane as a single-engine aircraft, but Cleveland said Monday the Beechcraft B55 is “larger than people think.” The B55 is a twin-engine plane that seats six people, he said.

ExplorePlane crashes into Lake Hartwell near Georgia-South Carolina border

Divers working in conditions of complete darkness could not open the plane’s doors and were not allowed to “modify” the plane, Cleveland said. National Transportation Safety Board officials want to preserve the plane’s condition for the sake of their investigation, he said. Besides the NTSB and local authorities, an insurance company is investigating, he added.

The sheriff said the NTSB had approved lifting the plane and county officials were working to find a salvage company that could lift the wreckage from the bottom of the lake without compromising the investigation. Salvage contractors would likely use a cable or floats to lift the plane, Cleveland said. Recovery divers will be forced to deal with the extreme depth of the wreckage as well as trees on the lake bottom that entangle the aircraft.

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