Green Cove Springs Navy veteran dies in Clay plane crash

Plane crash victim identified

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — Friends of the family confirm the pilot who died in Thursday night's plane crash in Clay County was Timothy O'Laughlin, 73, of Green Cove Springs.

Employment records obtained by Action News Jax show O’Laughlin was a Navy veteran.

Those friends declined to comment due to the family’s wishes but said he was a well-known and well-respected member of the community.

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The plane went down about a 1.5 miles into deep into a heavily wooded area near the intersection of County Road 218 and Henley Road intersection.

The plane hit power lines, according to investigators.

The crash caused about 6,000 customers to lose power after the crash, according to Clay Electric.

The National Transportation Safety Board said O’Laughlin flew a Van’s RV-4 out of Haller Airpark in Green Cove Springs around 4:45 p.m. before crashing.

The NTSB began its preliminary investigation Friday morning.

“What they’re really focused on is preserving the perishable evidence,” said NTSB spokesperson Peter Knudson.

The Florida Highway Patrol remained at the scene through the night until the NTSB arrived.

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The NTSB finished gathering information at the scene around noon Friday and took items to another location for closer examination.

“The No. 1 thing, of course, is to document that wreckage at the accident site, determine if there are any witnesses and gather any information from witnesses,” Knudson said.

At this time, Knudson says witnesses have not been identified, and video has not been located.

He said investigators will also be processing radio transmissions and meteorological data and investigating the pilot’s background in the 72 hours before the flight, in order to determine the cause of the crash.

Knudson said the first report, which presents facts, not causes, could be ready in about two weeks.

He said fatal plane crash investigations can sometimes take up to two years to complete.