Tragedy strikes Carolina duck hunters


Plane crash leaves duck hunting friends presumed dead

Eight people — four adults and four teens — from the Down East community along North Carolina’s coast are missing and presumed dead after a private plane crashed while carrying them home from a N.C. Youth Day waterfowl hunt over the Feb. 12 – 13 weekend. 

The eight people were all close friends from the tight-knit Down East community. The Coast Guard and Carteret County Sheriff’s Dept. searched 2014 square miles during a 48+ hour time period. They found human remains and personal items, but sadly found no survivors. They have suspended their search for survivors but are still searching three separate debris fields in hopes of recovering and identifying all bodies.

Ernest Rawls of Greenville, N.C. was piloting the plane when air traffic controllers from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point noticed the plane behaving erratically on radar before disappearing from the screen. Rawls’ son, Jeffrey Rawls of Greenville, was aboard as well.

Other passengers were:

  • Stephanie McInnis Fulcher, 42-years-old of Sea Level 
  • Jonathan Kole McInnis, 15 of Sea Level
  • Douglas Hunter Parks, 45 of Sea Level
  • Noah Lee Styron, 15 of Cedar Island
  • Michael Daily Shephard, 15 of Atlantic
  • Jacob Nolan Taylor, 16 of Atlantic

The cause of the crash is unknown, and officials hope to recover the plane’s equipment to help determine what went wrong.

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