NEW SITE, Miss. (WTVA) -- Authorities say shortly after 2 p.m. Sunday, witnesses in the area reported a plane going down in New Site.
It didn't take long for some 125 volunteers from throughout the area to begin a search that lasted for at least a couple of hours in the thickly-wooded area not far from New Site High School.
Along County Road 4111, residents kept finding pieces of the plane itself and personal belongings of the passsengers.
The search continued deep into the woods.
Then suddenly, searchers found what they had been looking for deep in the woods.
Authorities were not sure at the time how many bodies were on board.
But it didn't take too much longer before Prentiss County officials were giving out information.
"What I do know for sure at this time, it was a small, single-engine plane. Piper is the make. It's a Piper 300 with retractable gear. It had three people on board. The names, I can't release at this time. But all three people are deceased. The origin of the flight was Andrews, N.C., and they were heading to Oxford," said Prentiss County EMA Director Ralph Lauderdale.
Lauderdale says the plane encountered a severe thunderstorm on its route which could likely have caused the crash. He says the plane was flying at around 8,000 feet.
The identities of the three were not known Sunday afternoon pending the extrication of the bodies and notification of next of kin.
He says a toxicology screening will be performed on the dead pilot, which is standard FAA procedure.
They will also perform an autopsy.
Whether the other bodies will be examined, he says, is at the discretion of investigators and the medical examiner.
Federal investigators were said to be on their way to the scene and would arrive Monday.
Authorities say pieces of the plane were scattered across a one-mile area.