Government shutdown could delay local plane crash investigation, others around country

On Tuesday a homeowner reported finding a part of the crashed plane by their dock. (Image: WTVC)

On Tuesday, we learned the federal government shutdown could affect the time it takes for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to investigate the plane crash north of Soddy-Daisy Monday afternoon, and many others around the country.

As soon as that crash happened, our team started reaching out to the agencies that investigate when planes go down, the FAA and the NTSB.

We quickly learned after reaching their voicemails, that getting answers to our questions could be delayed due to federal employees not being at work.

We have seen plane crashes in our area before and it's common to see federal officials on the scene as soon as the next day.

One sheriff we spoke with from Montana Tuesday says he expected the same thing after a plane crashed in his hometown last week, but that didn't happen.

"Due to the lapse in appropriations, all media relations staff have been furloughed," a FAA voicemail told us.

Next we called the NTSB, and reached this voicemail: "Thank you for calling the media relations division of the National Transportation Board. Due to the lapse in appropriations, all media relations staff have been furloughed. You are welcome to leave a voicemail; however no one will be able to respond to your inquiry until after the shutdown has ended."

The NTSB is tasked with investigating planes that go down, but at crash sites across the country law enforcement officers are dealing with delays.

Sheriff Wynn Meehan from Broadwater County, Montana worked a plane crash in his area on January 2nd.

"They hit a power line and sheered off their tail fin and rudder, and basically sent them into a nose dive. The pilot and passenger are alive," says Sheriff Meehan.

Meehan says he expected to see the NTSB and FAA the next day, but that didn't happen.

"They just asked us to do the crash investigation for them and make sure that everything they needed for when they get back, and they can come in and actually finish this up," said Meehan.

The NTSB told ABC News before the government shutdown they would put all current investigations on hold, and possibly consider investigating the ones with significant casualties.

It's a decision former chairman of the NTSB Jim Hall says shouldn't have to be made.

"Well that's a disservice to the American people and to the people that were on this aircraft and the people who were not getting a response from the NTSB and the FAA," says Hall.

We did get in touch with one FAA spokesperson who says they are working on a very limited staff. He did provide us with the tail number of the plane and said they are receiving information from local authorities.

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