Suicide a factor in deadly Fredericksburg plane crash - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Suicide a factor in plane crash that killed Fredericksburg pilot

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SPOTSYLVANIA, VA (WWBT) -

State Police have identified the pilot who died in Monday night's plane crash in Spotsylvania as 22-year-old Edwin Hassel. 

The NTSB along with State Police say Hassel used the crash to commit suicide.

A single-engine Cessna 172 crashed around 6:30 p.m. near a runway at the Shannon Airport according to State Police. The pilot was killed in the crash. No one else was in the plane.

According to State Police, the pilot was threatening suicide before the crash. A text alert sent by Spotsylvania Fire and EMS also said the crash was intentional.

A source at the JLSA flight school on the property said the pilot had rented the Cessna 172 only about five times prior to Monday's crash. According to flight school staff, Hassel had rented the plane, and he was only in the air for roughly five minutes before a witness says the plane took a nose dive for the ground.

NTSB Safety investigator Dennis Diaz said it's his job to collect all evidence left of the plane crash along with radar data and even the 911 call; however, he said there won't be much from the airport.

"It's a non-towered airport so no recording capability here," said Diaz.

According to online aircraft registration, the 1975 model is a single-engine, four-seater owned by Cross Flot Aviation Incorporated out of Fairfax. Diaz hopes all the evidence collected Tuesday along with this background information will help piece parts of this unusual crash together.

"The most important reason why we're here in addition to explaining what happened and why it happened is if possible to make a recommendation to prevent future occurrences," Diaz added. "So, if there is something we can work with the FAA on, or engine manufactures or operators. That's really why we're here to do what we do."

The flight school owner also said Hassel had his private pilot's license for less than a year. The pilot's fiance was on scene speaking with deputies and was very distraught.

Investigators say they plan to wrap up before nightfall Monday. Meanwhile, Shannon Airport remains closed. We should know more details behind the crash once the preliminary report is finalized in five to 10 days.

Anyone who witnessed the wreck and has any information that could help in the investigation is encouraged to e-mail the NTSB at: letters@ntsb.gov.

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