Plane Crashes into North Carolina Home

HIGH POINT, N.C. -- A man who escaped with his three children Wednesday after a plane crashed into his house said he heard a horrifying sound, then told his children to get out. Sochan Rumthao said he had just walked into his kitchen when the...


HIGH POINT, N.C. --

A man who escaped with his three children Wednesday after a plane crashed into his house said he heard a horrifying sound, then told his children to get out.

Sochan Rumthao said he had just walked into his kitchen when the crash happened.

"The moment I get into my kitchen, I heard a big, horrifying sound that hit between my back yard and my neighbor's. The moment I heard that sound, (I heard) a big, giant wind at the back of my living room," Rumthao said.

Calls to 911 dispatch centers in Guilford County and High Point released Thursday show pandemonium Wednesday evening after the plane clipped a first house, then slammed Rumthao's in the quaint neighborhood in northern High Point.

Dozens of calls describe the explosion from the crash, which killed Dr. Thomas W. Littlejohn, of Winston-Salem, as well as the pilot, who hasn't been identified.

"We have a house that looks like it exploded," one caller, who identifies himself as a Forsyth County firefighter, said.

He's then heard telling onlookers to stand back.

"We need to get everybody away from this house. There is a plane inside this house," he is heard telling people in the background.

Another young caller reported an explosion.

"There was an explosion in our woods. There's smoke everywhere," the boy said.

"Did you see what it was?" the dispatcher responded.

"No sir. I just saw an explosion."

Officials said the plane, a Beechcraft Baron, was attempting to land at Piedmont Triad International Airport. It had been en route to Winston-Salem when it was diverted to Greensboro due to adverse weather conditions, officials said.

It crashed on Brian Hollars Court in the Frasier Downs neighborhood off Sandy Ridge Road at about 5:45 p.m. while on its approach to the runway. No one was home in the first house. Four people were in the second home and made it out safely.

Audio obtained by WXII from the air traffic control tower at PTIA shows some tense moments before the plane was reported down.

"We're stopping everybody. Nobody's moving. It's all yours. I'm not hearing you right now. You guys do what you gotta do," the controller is heard radioing to the plane. "We're not moving anybody until they either find that airplane or they call us."

After no response from the plane, the controller scrambled to find information about the flight plan.

"Smokey four negative. We didn't have anything on him except a call sign. I've got a flight plan on these guys and that was literally it," the controller said. "Call sign was -- give me a second, I'll find it -- Logistic 569. It was a Beechcraft Baron, but I have no idea how much fuel or souls or any of that."

Jim Downing, who lives one street away from the home, said he was on his way home from work when he heard an explosion.

“I could see the flame and fire and some kids were jumping around,” Downing said.

Downing said he ran over to find out what happened, but by that time, the father, identified Thursday as Sochan Rumthao, and his three children were outside. Rumthao's wife was in Georgia at the time of the crash.

Not long after, fire crews arrived at the home and began dousing a fire that broke out. The fire was extinguished by about 7 p.m., officials said.

“There was various piles of debris in the back yard of the house and the back yard of the house next door. It almost is like it dropped from the sky,” Downing said.

Downing said the plane crashed at the ground level of the home.

“I was in the house watching TV and I heard a loud bang. I ran outside and saw the engine in the street. Some people were yelling. Some people were crying. Initially I thought a car had crashed into the house,” another witness, Carl Hall, said.

MaryJo Rumbaugh is one of the neighbors who gave the family shelter shortly after the crash.

She described what Rumthao told her happened inside the home.

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