The two people killed in a midair collision Tuesday between an F-16 and a private Cessna plane near Moncks Corner have been identified.
Berkeley County Coroner Bill Salisbury said the body of 68-year-old Michael Johnson was recovered from the Cooper River Wednesday morning. Johnson was a passenger in the Cessna 150 flown by his son 30-year-old Joe Johnson. The younger pilot’s body has not been found.
“I have two forensic pathologists from the Medical University (of South Carolina) that will be assisting me in identifying the remains we have recovered,” Salisbury told reporters on Wednesday.
Both men were killed when an F-16 Fighting Falcon from Shaw Air Force Base hit their plane moments after they had taken off from the Berkeley County Airport, Air Force investigators say. The planes collided at 11:01 a.m. over Lewisfield Plantation, about three miles south of Moncks Corner. Debris was scattered across seven miles.
The F-16 pilot, Air Force Major Aaron Johnson (no relation), parachuted to safety. 20th Fighter Wing commander Col. Stephen Jost said the pilot was on a solo mission to practice instrument-assisted approaches at Joint Base Charleston.
No injuries were reported on the ground. An investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board as well as an Air Force forensics team are inspecting the debris to determine the cause of the crash.
NTSB investigator Dennis Diaz said the immediate goal is preserving evidence. Anyone who finds debris is asked not to touch it, but to call 911.
Joe Johnson was a former minor league baseball player from Berkeley County. He attended The Citadel and played on the college’s baseball team from 2003-2005. He later transferred to Louisburg College and finished his college career there before being selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 13th round of 2006 Major League Baseball draft. He spent two years in the minors playing for Braves affiliates in Kissimmeee, Florida; Danville, Virginia; and Rome, Georgia; according to the statistics website Baseball-Reference.com.
The elder Johnson was a Vietnam War veteran who had retired from previous jobs as a teacher and carpenter, according to the Charleston Post & Courier.