Emergency lights at night

ASHEBORO — Two people died Friday night when their small plane crashed near Southwestern Randolph High School, authorities said Saturday.

The pilot and passenger were traveling from Tennessee and tried to land at Asheboro Regional Airport, the Randolph County Sheriff's Office said in a news release. Their names have not been released, pending notification of family.

The National Transportation Safety Board has been called to investigate the crash.

Police responded to the airport about 10:10 p.m. Friday for a report of an overdue airplane and later called in the sheriff's office to investigate. 

Authorities and witnesses at the airport said the plane had flown over the runway at 8:30 p.m. to begin a landing approach but flew out of sight past the trees and did not return, the sheriff's office said.

The FAA reported that radar last showed the plane in an area between the new Asheboro Bypass and Cannon Heights Drive. Ash-Rand Rescue and the sheriff’s office began a search on the ground and Highway Patrol brought in a helicopter. The search was called off at 2:40 a.m. due to darkness and rain, the sheriff's office said.

The search resumed with new information about 4:30 a.m. showing cell phone coordinates in a wooded area near Southwestern Randolph High School, the sheriff's office said. When Highway Patrol helicopters resumed the search Saturday morning, they found the wreckage near that area. 

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