Mystery Surrounds Man's Death After He Exits Plane Mid-Air Before Aircraft Makes Emergency Landing


A man is dead after he either jumped or fell from a cargo plane shortly before it made an emergency landing in North Carolina Friday.

A desperate search was launched for the passenger described as around 27 years old, wearing tan pants and a shirt with a logo on it, however, he was later found dead in a nearby backyard.

Wake County Emergency Management tells PEOPLE that the Fuquay-Varina Police Department recovered the individual after they were already in the area as part of a multi-agency search also involving the Fuquay-Varina and Cary Fire Departments.

Darshan Patel, Wake County Emergency Management chief of operations, announced the discovery after a resident "heard something in their backyard" and flagged down officers, according to WRAL 5.

FVPD did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

The twin-engine cargo plane previously made an emergency landing at Raleigh–Durham International Airport at around 2:40 p.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration. A spokesperson for RDU says the pilot reported landing gear issues upon approach.

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The National Transportation Safety Board is leading an investigation into the crash with the FAA. NTSB did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

The pilot, who was taken to Duke Hospital with minor injuries, told authorities that a passenger jumped from the plane without a parachute before it landed at RDU, WRAL reported.

A video of the landing shared by ABC 11 appears to show that the plane's right landing gear did not open, although the left gear appeared to be working fine. The aircraft skidded into a grassy area between two runways before coming to a stop, where first responders were waiting for the arrival.

Simon Palmore witnessed the landing and posted photos to Twitter.

"I saw a whole crowd of people looking out the window at the jet bridge, and then saw that propeller plane on the grass beyond the runway and a couple of emergency vehicles," Palmore told WRAL.

The airfield was temporarily closed until the scene was secured, causing several delayed landings and at least one diverted American Airlines flight from Dallas, according to WRAL.

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The small 10-person plane, a CASA CN-212 Aviocar, belonged to Spore Ltd. LLC, which is owned by Rampart Aviation.

Rampart declined PEOPLE's request for comment as the incident is still under investigation.