BUCKLEY, Wash. -- Two men died after their World War II-era plane crashed near Bonney Lake in Pierce County Wednesday afternoon.
The Pierce County Sheriff's Department received multiple reports around 3:30 p.m. of a plane down in the 26000 block of 96th Street E. Witnesses reported a small plane sputtering, flying low, then going down in a wooded area.
"I seen it go over. I thought it was going to land in the field, but it didn't. It crashed in the woods. Big explosion. It shook the ground I was standing on," said a witness.
Pierce County officials said the plane was a 1946 Navy trainer plane that had recently been restored and repainted. It was headed toward an air strip about a mile towards of Bonney Lake. The World War II-era plane crashed in a heavily wooded area just north of Bonney Lake, and officials say it may require a helicopter or crane to recover the aircraft.
The Pierce County Medical Examiner's office identified the victims as Rodney Richardson, 72, and James Cawley, 62, both of Buckley.
According to the FAA registry, the plane was registered to Richardson. We have not been told who was piloting the plane at the time of the crash.
FAA and National Transportation Safety Board have been notified and are at the crash scene.
KING 5's Drew Mikkelsen contributed to this report.