Official: 4 killed in small-plane crash on Atlanta highway

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Four Dead After Plane Crashes Onto Atlanta Highway

ATLANTA (AP) - A small passenger airplane crashed into an Atlanta interstate Friday, killing all four people aboard and starting an intense fire on the busy road, authorities said.

The Piper PA-32 took off from DeKalb Peachtree Airport and apparently ran into trouble not long afterward, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Kathleen Bergen said.

Motorist Don McGhee, 48, said he saw the aircraft nearly hit a traffic light pole near the highway onramp.

"It looked like it was struggling. You could see him trying to get the nose of the plane up. It was edging up, and then it just dropped," McGhee said. "It was just a huge fire, just smoke and fire."

Witnesses said the blaze prevented anyone on the ground from helping any victims in the wreckage.

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Official: 4 killed in small-plane crash on Atlanta highway
Police look toward the wreckage of a plane crash on Interstate 285, Friday, May 8, 2015, in Doraville, Ga. Spokesman Capt. Eric Jackson of the DeKalb County Fire Department told reporters that four were onboard, and all died. He says the east-west highway is shut down in both directions. He says he doesn't know any details about where the plane was headed. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A firefighter walks past the wreckage of a plane crash on Interstate 285, Friday, May 8, 2015, in Doraville, Ga. Spokesman Capt. Eric Jackson of the DeKalb County Fire Department told reporters that four were onboard, and all died. He says the east-west highway is shut down in both directions. He says he doesn't know any details about where the plane was headed. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A firefighter looks on toward the wreckage of a plane crash on Interstate 285, Friday, May 8, 2015, in Doraville, Ga. Spokesman Capt. Eric Jackson of the DeKalb County Fire Department told reporters that four were onboard, and all died. He says the east-west highway is shut down in both directions. He says he doesn't know any details about where the plane was headed. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Investigators look at the wreckage of a plane that crashed on Interstate 285, Friday, May 8, 2015, in Doraville, Ga. A small passenger airplane crashed into an Atlanta interstate Friday, killing all four people aboard and starting an intense fire on the busy road, authorities said. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
An investigator looks at the wreckage of a plane that crashed on Interstate 285, Friday, May 8, 2015, in Doraville, Ga. A small passenger airplane crashed into an Atlanta interstate Friday, killing all four people aboard and starting an intense fire on the busy road, authorities said. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Investigators look at the wreckage of a plane that crashed on Interstate 285, Friday, May 8, 2015, in Doraville, Ga. A small passenger airplane crashed into an Atlanta interstate Friday, killing all four people aboard and starting an intense fire on the busy road, authorities said. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A propeller sits on the road near the wreckage of a plane that crashed on Interstate 285, Friday, May 8, 2015, in Doraville, Ga. A small passenger airplane crashed into an Atlanta interstate Friday, killing all four people aboard and starting an intense fire on the busy road, authorities said. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Investigators look at the wreckage of a plane that crashed on Interstate 285, Friday, May 8, 2015, in Doraville, Ga. A small passenger airplane crashed into an Atlanta interstate Friday, killing all four people aboard and starting an intense fire on the busy road, authorities said. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Traffic backs up on Interstate 285 West as the highway is closed after a plane crashed on the eastbound lanes, Friday, May 8, 2015, in Doraville, Ga. A small passenger airplane crashed into an Atlanta interstate Friday, killing all four people aboard and starting an intense fire on the busy road, authorities said. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A police officer jumps over the median near the wreckage of a plane that crashed on Interstate 285, Friday, May 8, 2015, in Doraville, Ga. A small passenger airplane crashed into an Atlanta interstate Friday, killing all four people aboard and starting an intense fire on the busy road, authorities said. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Gerald Smith sits in his truck which was clipped on the hood by a plane that crashed while he was driving on Interstate 285, Friday, May 8, 2015, in Doraville, Ga. A small passenger airplane crashed into an Atlanta interstate Friday, killing all four people aboard and starting an intense fire on the busy road, authorities said. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A plane crashed right outside of my dealership close to the 285 connector. I pray that not a lot of people were hurt.
On scene ref plane down on 285 EB #doravillepplanedown @DunwoodyPolice http://t.co/VLTNcJ1o82
All @GDOT_I285_ATL traffic eb & wb redirected http://t.co/gXAdg725HG
@DunwoodyPolice assisting @DoravillePD with #doravilleplanedown http://t.co/oklm2KXr2y
Plane wreck on 285 in Atlanta GA? http://t.co/QXietJm1TA
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DeKalb Fire Capt. Eric Jackson said all four people onboard died in the crash, though authorities did not immediately release the names of the victims. The plane nearly struck a vehicle driven by a former DeKalb County firefighter and a truck.

"It's a miracle, literally a miracle, that no other cars were hit," Jackson told reporters.

The tail, other wreckage and charred concrete could be seen at the median barrier where the plane crashed. Smaller debris littered the area, including a propeller lying on the roadway about 40 feet from most of the wreckage.

Emergency officials shut down Interstate 285 in both directions, causing large traffic jams. Jackson said the scene of the crash must be preserved so investigators can determine what happened.


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Associated Press reporter Ray Henry contributed to this report.

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