A day after the unresponsive airliner forced fighter jets from Washington to scramble, US authorities announced Monday that there were no survivors from the Virginia crash of a small plane carrying four people.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, which was looking into the incident, the Cessna Citation crashed into rugged terrain on Sunday afternoon, around 170 miles (275 kilometers) southwest of the capital.
An earlier high-speed pursuit by F-16s of the aircraft caused a sonic boom that shook windows and walls for miles and startled residents in Washington and its suburbs.
First responders arrived on foot at the scene close to the town of Staunton about four hours after the incident, according to a statement from the Virginia State Police.
The search was put on hold after “no survivors were found,” according to state police.
An official stated that President Joe Biden, who was in attendance at the White House and also played golf on Sunday, was briefed on the event but did not say whether any emergency measures were taken.
According to the FAA, the passenger aircraft took off from Elizabethton, Tennessee, and was heading towards New York’s Long Island MacArthur Airport, but according to flight monitoring service Flightradar24, it turned around after passing over Long Island and continued south over Washington and into Virginia.
“The FAA and NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) will investigate,” the FAA said in a statement.
“There were four people on board,” it said. A preliminary accident report was anticipated for release later Monday.
US authorities had not yet released the names of passengers on board, but the first information was provided by statements made by two relatives of those who were thought to be on board.
The aircraft was registered to Encore Motors of Melbourne, a Florida-based business, according to public records.
John Rumpel, the company’s owner, told The Washington Post that his “entire family” was aboard the plane, including his daughter, a grandchild, and her nanny. Rumpel’s wife, John Rumpel, said on the platform Sunday night in response to condolence messages sent on her Facebook page:
“My family is gone, my daughter and granddaughter.” NASDC said that F-16 fighter jets “responded to an unresponsive Cessna 560 Citation V aircraft over Washington, DC, and northern Virginia.”
The command reported trying to get in touch with the pilot before the jet crashed, but to no avail.