WHITFIELD COUNTY, GA (WRCB)- Just before 4:30 Saturday afternoon, a small plane crashed in Whitfield County, killing the pilot onboard.
He is identified as 52-year-old Donald Holbrook, a business owner from Chattanooga.
Investigators are trying to figure out why his plane went down shortly after taking off from Dalton's airport.
"As soon as I heard, seen the plane and heard the boom, I knew what had happened," says Ron Parker, who witnessed the fiery crash.
Parker lives off Sane Road, just across the street from where the two-engine plane went down, not far from Dalton's airport.
"I went down there to the plane. And it was already on fire all over. And I knew there wasn't anything I could do," he says.
Parker says just before the aircraft went down, he knew the pilot was fighting to keep the plane in the air.
"I did notice that the passenger side or the right engine, the propeller wasn't turning."
"We're thinking that possibly the plane took off, discovered engine trouble, was trying to circle back to make it to the airport and very tragic, unfortunate results," says Whitfield County Sheriff Scott Chitwood.
Chitwood says the pilot, Donald Holbrook, owned the Piper PA 31, Navajo plane.
It crashed just 50 yards away from a woman's home. She is ok, but Sane Road had to be shut down as firefighters put out the flames.
"Everything has pretty well burnt," says Chitwood.
"The fuselage was in the ground and there was wing off of it," says Parker.
Parker is a retired Dalton firefighter, trained in responding to crash sites.
He says his heart goes out to the pilot and his family, saying he would have done more if he could.
"What I'm wearing, it's not like firefighter gear and I knew there could possibly be a secondary explosion. They carry batteries on board. But there wouldn't have been nothing I could have done if could have got to it," he says.
As standard procedure, the FAA and the NTSB are being brought in to investigate the crash.
Holbrook's body has been transported to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab for an autopsy.