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Memphis Businessman George Cates is the victim of fatal plane crash in Mercer


The victim of the plane crash yesterday in Mercer has been identified as George Cates a businessman from Memphis who was always looking to help others and didn’t care to receive any recognition for it.

"I knew him very well," says A.C Wharton. A.C Wharton, the former Memphis and Shelby county mayor says the loss of George Cates is incalculable, "He wanted to be the heart of the community when it came to improving the beauty and the

Cleanliness and wholesomeness of this place we call Memphis."

Cates died in a single-engine plane crash in mercer right outside Jackson Tennessee.

"My understanding is that the pilot radioed ahead and was experiencing some trouble and then they lost contact with him," says Eric Turner the Madison County Fire Chief.

Cates and his plane were found 50 minutes later around 10:30 Monday morning crashed in a farm field. He left Memphis heading to Ashville North Carolina when he experienced some kind of trouble. After the trouble began, he was trying to make an emergency landing at McKellar-Sipes regional airport. About ten miles from the airport they lost contact with the plane and it went down.

Cates was the former head of Mid-America apartment communities. He was instrumental in forming the Overton park conservancy.

Overton park tweeted "words are inadequate to describe the grief our team is feeling at the loss if our founding board member, George Cates. We will be eternally grateful for his intelligence, humor, and passionate belief that Memphians deserved a world-class public space." Cates was also behind the massive improvements going on at the Overton Park golf course. "That was the last thing he called me about was the golf course," says A.C. Wharton.

Wharton says Cates was the driving force behind the Neighborhood Preservation Act that helps clean up get Blight, a fungus that plagues houses.

"It was something he saw. A human being should not live in conditions like that," says Wharton.

Something Wharton says many people don't know about Cates was his idea of no whistle zones. Quiet zones for trains traveling through neighborhoods. Wharton says Cates was warned about that endeavor, “nobody takes on the railroad. Well, George Cates took on the railroad."

The cause of the plane crash is still unclear. The federal aviation administration and the national transportation safety board are continuing the investigation.

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