The crash scattered wreckage and shook up nearby residents. Both the pilot and a passenger died, but there were no injuries on the ground because no one was home at the time, DeKalb County Fire Capt. Dion Bentley told reporters.
"I'm feeling very lucky," said David Youngpeter, who lives near the townhome. "It was too close for comfort." The Piper PA-28 plane crashed shortly after taking off from DeKalb-Peachtree Airport outside Atlanta about 10:30 a.m., the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. Conditions were foggy in the area.
Jared Hauck said he was working from his home about 1,000 feet (300 meters) from the crash site because he had adopted a dog the day before. "I heard a really loud crash and some rustling," he said. "It didn't sound like anything normal."
Hauck said he found a piece of wreckage outside his front door. The end of one of the airport's runways is about 1.2 miles (1.9 kilometers) from where the crash occurred, and Youngpeter said he regularly hears planes overhead.
West Hutchinson, another resident, said he heard the plane struggling to gain altitude before it crashed. "All of a sudden, I heard a really loud crack," Hutchinson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution . "It was obvious that the plane had crashed because it was really loud and all of sudden went immediately silent."
Bentley said the plane crashed into a six-unit townhome and crews had trouble accessing the wreckage and reaching one of the plane's occupants. DeKalb County Medical Examiner Pat Bailey says officials are not yet ready to identify the victims.
An Associated Press photographer saw authorities removing a body from the site after 1 p.m. A large section of wall and part of the roof was knocked out of a building at the townhome complex. DeKalb County Fire Marshal Joe Cox declared the units unsafe because of structural damage and fuel vapor, according to county officials.
This story has been corrected to show that witness David Youngpeter lived 1,000 feet away, instead of 100. An earlier version of this report had an incorrect spelling of DeKalb County Fire Capt. Dion Bentley's name.