Authorities worked Saturday to remove the bodies of four people from Florida who died in the crash of a small aircraft in an extremely remote section of Virginia's Great Dismal Swamp, Virginia State Police said.
Because the crash site cannot be reached by vehicle, Dismal Swamp Canal Park officials planned to use a bulldozer to clear a path for 4-wheel-drive vehicles, said state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.
Using a privately-owned helicopter during search efforts Friday — more than 24 hours after the plane was reported missing — authorities located the wreckage around 4 p.m. in Chesapeake's Great Dismal Swamp. Crews were able to reach the crash site later Friday evening, state police said in a news release.
Police said the victims included 61-year-old pilot Theodore "Ted" Bradshaw of Cooper City, who had more than 30 years of flying experience. The other victims were Bradshaw's wife, 48-year-old Mary Anne Bradshaw, and 64-year-old Charles Rodd and 58-year-old Diane Rodd, both of Palm Beach.
Theodore Bradshaw was a retired captain from Sunrise Fire-Rescue who was one of the original 10 paid firefighters as Sunrise Golf Village became a city in 1972, the department said.
He retired in 2005 after rising to the rank of assistant fire chief.
Bradshaw was known for his spirited personality, intense mentorship and dedication to serving his community, the department said in a news release. He brought new technology to the department long before it was adopted by the industry as a whole, including the first closed cab fire engines to ensure firefighters' safety.
“Our department has suffered a great loss today as we remember both Ted and his wife, Mary Ann,” Fire Chief Thomas DiBernardo said. “We are deeply saddened by this tragedy.”
Flags were to be lowered to half-staff on Saturday in the retired firefighter's honor.
Police said the twin-propeller Cessna 340 left Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport on Thursday morning with a scheduled arrival four hours later at Hampton Roads Executive Airport. The Norfolk air traffic control tower's last radar contact was shortly after noon Thursday over the swamp.
After the wreckage was spotted by Hampton Roads Helicopters, coordinates of the twin-propeller Cessna 340's location were given to search crews who reached the crash site by 6:30 p.m. Friday.
The Civil Air Patrol, park rangers and rescue personnel assisted in the search.
The state medical examiner and federal investigators have been notified, and the cause of the crash remains under investigation.
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