Law enforcement sources told TMZ there's an operating theory that Charles Hew Crooks, 23, could've gone to the back of the plane and opened the cargo door to inspect a damaged landing gear, which led to him accidentally falling out of the aircraft prior to it making an emergency landing.
The possible theory comes after a 13-minute recording of a 911 call made by two Federal Aviation Administration employees obtained by NBC News suggested that Crooks may have jumped out of the plane.
“This is from Raleigh Airport. We have a pilot that was inbound to the field. His co-pilot jumped out of the aircraft," an FAA employee is heard saying before providing the coordinates of where the incident took place. "So, they said he jumped out of the aircraft. His copilot jumped out without the parachute so he might have impact to the ground.”
"I guess at this point in time, all we can really do is kind of do a recovery," the dispatcher is heard saying.
"Yeah, I know. Yeah, I mean, I don't know," another FAA worker who takes over the call said. "This is the craziest thing I've ever dealt with. I mean, I'm sure this pilot is going to be shaken up. I have no idea. He literally just said, 'my pilot just jumped out.'"
Authorities have not determined why Crooks may have jumped out of the plane and an investigation into the incident is ongoing.
Earlier this week, WRAL shared the audio exchange between the pilot and air traffic control in which the pilot asks for help before his co-pilot, Crooks, fell to his death.
"Emergency, we've lost our right wheel. We would like to proceed to Raleigh and make a landing at Raleigh," the pilot said.
Daily Mail reports it obtained the 40-minute exchange and reports that the pilot confirmed "we have two persons on board" while speaking to air traffic control.
Crooks, who was later found dead about 30 miles south of the airport in Fuqua-Varina, was not wearing a parachute when he jumped out of the plane, Wake County emergency management spokesperson Darshan Patel confirmed during a news conference last Friday (July 29) evening via NBC News.
The twin-engine CASA CN-212 Aviocar made an emergency landing in a grass area at Raleigh-Durham International Airport at 2:40 p.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration via NBC News.
Video shared by WRAL shows the plane skid off the runway and partially spin in a circle before finally coming to a complete stop.
Multiple agencies assisted in the search for Crooks before his body was located just prior to 7:00 p.m. on Friday.
A resident in Fuqua-Varina flagged down an officer and said they'd heard a noise coming from behind their home where Crooks' body was eventually located.
The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are continuing to an active investigation into the incident.