A passenger jet plane crashed near Oxford on Saturday night, killing three people just after departing from the Oxford airport.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Rick Breitenfeldt said the plane, a Rockwell Sabreliner 65, departed from the University-Oxford Airport at about 3 p.m. Saturday. Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards said his office received a call shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday informing him that the plane had disappeared from radar.
Edwards said investigators found the wreckage between New Albany and Blue Springs at about 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Edwards said pilot Tommy Nix, his wife Merline Nix and co-pilot Jarrod Holloway were killed and were the only ones on board the flight.
Hours before it crashed, Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, a prominent former attorney in Oxford, was on that plane returning from a conference in Colorado.
While on his way to a memorial service in Booneville for one of the victims, Scruggs, also a licensed pilot, told The Daily Mississippian over the phone that he is still in a somber mood after the events.
Scruggs learned about the plane crash Saturday when he got a text from an unknown number.
“If this is Dickie Scruggs, please call me immediately,” the text said.
Scruggs said he called the number, which belonged to a pilot who lived nearby. The plane lost communication with air traffic control east of Oxford, the pilot told Scruggs, and he was trying to figure out what happened. The pilot thought Scruggs was on the plane when it went silent.
Scruggs said he got in touch with Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill and law enforcement dispatchers to let them know of the plane crash.
Scruggs said Nix, who lived in Belmont, and Holloway, who lived in Booneville, were professional pilots. He said he had been on 50 to 100 flights with Nix as pilot and about a dozen flights with Holloway as pilot.
“I will be very surprised if the cause of the accident was pilot error,” Scruggs said.
Scruggs said Nix was a “salt of the earth Mississippian” and a fantastic guy.
“I’ll always remember (Nix) as having humility, a sense of humor and being professional,” Scruggs said.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.
Information in this article was compiled in part from The Associated Press.