Only on 12: First look at crash site from Thomson plane wreck

An aerial view of the plane crash in McDuffie County. (WRDW-TV)

An aerial view of the plane crash in McDuffie County. (WRDW-TV)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013

THOMSON, Ga. (WRDW) -- One week after the deadly plane crash, we're getting a look at the crash site.

The plane crashed deep in the woods behind the Milliken plant on property owned by a couple who have lived there for 45 years. They were both home when the whole thing happened.

"It's like a nightmare. I started to say it's like a dream but, no. It was a nightmare," Ruth Gerlach said.

But, unfortunately, the plane crash that claimed five lives was very real, and it happened right in her backyard.

"We heard the the big explosion, and I thought it was thunder, and my husband said, 'It can't be thunder, it's bright outside,'" she said.

Her husband, Gene, described the sound, saying, "It exploded four times in all. Two big explosions and two little explosions, kind of spread out over a few minutes."

Gene showed us the crash site, deep in the woods. It is only accessible by golf cart or four-wheeler.

"One of the motors ended up in the pond, and a lot of metal is probably in the pond, but they picked up all the visible metal," he said.

You can see sky through the tops of the trees where the plane came through, destroying everything in its path.

"The plane, when it hit the ground, pulled my fence down 150 feet, and wasn't nothing left but a few bent posts right in that area," Gene said.

They say the wreckage looked nothing like a plane, and fire was everywhere.

"How anybody could have come out of that alive was just unbelievable," Ruth said.

Even though the pieces have been cleared, you can still see charred ground and trees, even a few metal pieces here and there. They are a grim reminder of the horror that unfolded in a once quiet pine forest.

"We think about the plane crash and about families that were involved and how it must've been devastation for them," Gene said.

"Our thoughts and prayers have been with them," Ruth said. "If I go down there now, I know that I'll always think about it when I get in that part of the woods."

The couple says their quiet little home in the woods has started to look more like grand central station in the past week. They've had to close the gate to their driveway because so many people have tried to come on their property to get a closer look at the wreckage.


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