TRENTON, SC (WFXG) - A new report sheds some light on the hours before a plane crash that claimed the life of Graniteville pilot Richard Showalter just two weeks ago.
The preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board said Showalter's twin-engine Piper suffered a loss of engine power at 6:04 p.m. after takeoff from the Twin Lakes Airport.
"It looked like he had tried to land on Rachel Avenue," said witness Allan Swires. "And for some reason he couldn't do it, and he crashed into the trees."
Swires was among the first people to rush to the scene. Transportation officials interviewed him as part of their investigation. According to the report, he told investigators the plane sounded like it was only running on one engine. The NTSB said the left engine did not show it was producing power at the time of the crash.
The report also said Showalter had recently purchased the plane, and flown it to visit a relative in Pennsylvania.
When he returned to South Carolina, the NTSB said he contacted a mechanic because he was having trouble with the plane's fuel selectors. The report said the mechanic advised Showalter to have the plane's fuel system examined to make sure it was working properly.
But, officials said, Showalter never called the mechanic back before the final, fatal flight.
The NTSB plans to continue investigating and will release a full report at a later date.