Ladson man ID'd as pilot killed in crash

Authorities say a Ladson man died Tuesday after the plane he was flying to the Lowcountry crashed in rural Georgia.

John Edward Leuci, 45, of Ladson died after the Piper PA-32 crashed about 2 a.m. in a heavily wooded area near Washington, Ga., Wilkes County Sheriff Mark Moore said Wednesday.

Moore said Leuci worked for Coastal Aviation in Mount Pleasant.

The plane is registered to MS Saratoga LLC of Mount Pleasant. James D. Smith, owner of the J.D. Smith Co., a Mount Pleasant developer, is listed as the registered agent for MS Saratoga.

A representative of Coastal Aviation declined comment Wednesday.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said the flight took off from Madison County Executive Airport in Huntsville, Ala., and was destined for Mount Pleasant Regional Airport.

The FAA contacted the Wilkes County Sheriff's Office in Georgia after the pilot reported engine problems, Moore said.

Deputies searched the area in which the plane was last reported and found the burning crash site about three miles from Washington-Wilkes County Airport.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.