Pilot Killed When Plane Crashes into River Near Methuen, MA

June 18, 2024
Officials said the plane crashed into the Merrimack River in an area with challenging access.

Teddy Tauscher
The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.

METHUEN — Federal aviation authorities are investigating the crash of a single-engine plane that claimed the life of the pilot Monday afternoon.

The plane crashed into the Merrimack River near the border of North Andover and Methuen at around 2:15 p.m. Only the pilot was aboard, according to a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration. The National Transportation Safety Board will now be leading an investigation into the crash.

At a press conference at 5 p.m., local officials described the efforts taken by dive teams to recover the plane and what the next steps would be. At the time of the official statement, the plane — identified as a Van’s RV-6A by the FAA — was upside down and intact with the pilot still inside. Local efforts on scene were being led by Methuen, according to Methuen police Chief Scott McNamara.

Authorities in North Andover were initially alerted by staff at the Lawrence Municipal Airport after they had lost contact with a plane.

The plane had taken off from the Lawrence airport but officials were unsure how long it had been in the air.

North Andover Deputy Fire Chief Graham Rowe said a civilian aircraft was the first to spot the crash site.

North Andover first responders then determined it was on the Methuen side of the river and other agencies across multiple towns were contacted.

Graham said North Andover and Lawrence had boats in the water. The Methuen Fire Department also responded to the situation. Firefighters from North Andover, Lawrence and Methuen worked in the water and on riverbanks after the crash was reported.

Dive teams from around the region were brought in, including from Beverly. Rowe said the teams were assessing the best approach to handle the situation, at the time of the press conference.

“The plane was in a very remote location,” said Rowe. “Access was pretty difficult.”

Rowe said the embankments were steep on both sides of the river.

He said the plane crashed “a lot farther north” than the Amazon facility on Osgood Street.

According to Rowe, the water level was around five or six feet.

“The river is pretty shallow right now,” he said.

Rowe added officials had also contacted a nearby dam to make sure water levels were stable so that the plane wouldn’t shift.

Officials said they do not believe there was any inclement weather during the time of the crash.

A command post for first responders was set up on Riverview Street in North Andover.

McNamara said local authorities would continue to work on recovery efforts while the crash investigation is handled by others.

“At this point the facts and circumstances that led to this crash will be investigated fully by both the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board,” said McNamara. “They are going to be looking into what caused this crash.”

Jill Harmacinski and Caitlin Dee contributed to this story


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