A former Effingham County sheriff’s deputy remains in critical condition after his light airplane crashed Saturday afternoon.
Jimmy Morris, now a constable for Chief Magistrate Preston Exley, was rushed to Memorial Health University Medical Center after his plane went down near Highway 21 and Goshen Road just after takeoff.
According to Effingham County Sheriff’s officials, Morris apparently climbed too fast and the engine stalled. A wing of his plane, an experimental ultralight, clipped a tree, and the plane crashed nose first into the ground near St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.
“He has a passion for flying,” said Chief Deputy Richard Bush. “That’s just Jimmy. And it’s always been experimental aircraft.”
The plane Morris was flying Saturday had an enclosed two-seat cockpit.
“It was a nice ultralight,” Bush said.
Morris’ injuries include a broken right leg, a broken right ankle, a broken left ankle, a broken right arm, a puncture under his chin and a broken orbital socket.
“He’s probably going to lose his left eye,” Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie said.
Sheriff’s deputies were called out to the scene about 1:15 Saturday afternoon. Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration were there at 9 a.m. Sunday and have since released everything back to the sheriff’s department.
Morris started at the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office in 1990 and retired from there in 2004. Shortly thereafter, he began working part-time as a constable for Exley and has been the full-time constable for the last two years.
Morris took off from a private, grass airstrip that is frequented by ultralight pilots. McDuffie said there are several such airstrips around the county.
“There’s a group that has those planes and they fly around the county, going from airstrip to airstrip,” he said. “They make a big loop around the county.”
There have been three ultralight crashes along Goshen Road, McDuffie said, and two of them have resulted in fatalities.