Divers were going deeper and deeper into South Holston Lake Saturday, searching for any sign of a helicopter and its pilot.
"I've been told it [the lake] ranges from 25 feet down to about 40," said Sergeant Michael Conroy with Virginia State Police.
The call came in around 10:15 Friday night that a helicopter had crashed into the water. Sergeant Conroy says the helicopter had been shuttling people to and from Bristol Motor Speedway.
"We heard the helicopter come in, made one trip. Then it went back to the track, it came back in again. The second time it was taking off and then just 15 seconds at the most, we heard it hit the water," said Fay Buchanan, a witness that lives close by to the crash site.
The helicopter had just dropped off passengers at a private residence. State police say the pilot was the only person on board.
The cause of the crash will be determined by the Federal Aviation Administration. At this time state police do not know if the plane was faulty but say it was a Bell 407 helicopter, manufactured in 1996, and registered to K-VA-T Foods, the parent company of Food City.
People staying close by to the crash site tell News 5 they knew exactly what happened as soon as they heard the sound. "Just a big bang. It wasn't like metal on metal, it was more I guess a thud," said Buchanan.
Some rushed to the edge of the water with binoculars to get a better look. "After about 30 minutes we were able to kind of spot it. You could see the two strips, two landing gears flipped upside down on top of the water," said another witness, Jonathan Brown.
Witnesses say while it's not unusual to hear helicopters buzzing back and forth during race week at BMS, they're hoping for the best while fearing the worst. "It's kind of heart-wrenching to know that somebody is out there trapped under the water and there's really nothing that anybody could have done or able to do," added Brown.
News 5 spoke with Ron Bonacci, Vice President of Food City. He says everyone is praying very hard for the pilot's survival.
Virginia State Police are not releasing the name of the pilot until that person is found as well as the wreckage.
Pieces of the helicopter have also been found washing ashore South Holston Lake.