Search and rescue crews in a rural area of Virginia have found no survivors in the wreckage of the small aircraft that went silent, triggering a national security response after wandering into Washington, D.C.’s restricted airspace on June 4.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) scrambled F-16 fighter jets in an attempt to reach its pilot when authorities saw the plane flying erratically and without authorization at around 3:20 p.m. local time.
"My family is gone, my daughter and granddaughter," Barbara Rumpel, president of a Florida company with which the plane is registered, posted on social media. She was responding to condolences from others responding to news of the crash.
The Cessna 560 private jet was registered to her and her husband John Rumpel’s company Encore Motors, which is based in Melbourne, Florida.
The family confirmed that their adopted daughter and only granddaughter were aboard the doomed flight, which at one point registered a chilling descent of 20,000 feet a minute, John Rumpel said.
He told The Washington Post that his 50-year-old daughter and her daughter were his "entire family.”
They were thought to be headed home to Long Island after a four-day visit with him and his wife in North Carolina. The pilot and the family’s live-in nanny were the other two people onboard.
Rumpel asked the media to give his family privacy at this time. He said he had no further comment and was receiving updates from the FAA, police, and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
The Cessna crashed in mountainous terrain in the George Washington National Forest in southwestern Virginia, at around 3:30 p.m.
First responders found the wreckage on foot found just before 8 p.m. after an air response was ruled out due to poor weather conditions.
“No survivors were located” at the crash site, Virginia State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller said in a statement on June 4; search and rescue efforts were ended.
NTSB investigators were to arrive on the scene to document the scene and the aircraft and to examine radar data, weather information, and maintenance records.
The FAA and North American Aerospace Defense Command said in a statement on June 4 that they had authorized F-16 fighter jets to fly at supersonic speeds, which at speeds of 750 miles per hour at sea level, had caused a sonic boom and concern from residents, with many reports to 911 of a loud explosion.
The F-16 pilots also attempted to engage the Cessna pilot by firing flares but were unsuccessful.
President Joe Biden, who was playing golf with his brother at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, was alerted of the unresponsive plane.
“The President was briefed on the incident," a White House official said. "The sound resulting from the authorized DOD aircraft was faint at JBA.”
Capitol Police said that the U.S. Capitol was briefly placed on heightened alert right after the sonic boom.