At about 1315 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it impacted trees while maneuvering at low altitude. The solo private pilot was seriously injured; instrument conditions prevailed.
While following Interstate 77 in cruise flight and about 40 nm from his destination, the pilot encountered light rain that quickly progressed into heavy rain. He initiated a descent to follow the highway and stay beneath the clouds. While searching for a suitable landing site the airplane impacted trees and came to rest in a wooded area near the interstate median. A witness reported weather at the time was “foggy and rainy.” He saw the airplane flying very close to the tree tops. He observed its wings rock back and forth slightly and then the airplane impacted trees.