Five people died when a small plane crashed at Bartow Municipal Airport on Sunday, according to Polk County authorities.
The twin-engine Cessna, on the way to Key West for Christmas, crashed at the end of a runway shortly after taking off into dense fog, investigators said.
The plane took off about 7:15 a.m., headed east, according to deputies.
“For unknown reasons, but likely related to the fog, it crashed shortly after takeoff,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. Firefighters responded and put out a small blaze at the crash scene.
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“This is a horrific tragedy, especially on Christmas Eve, and the victims and their families are in our prayers,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
A call about the crash came in at 7:20 a.m., authorities said. The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration will investigate along with the Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff's office identified the pilot as Lakeland attorney John Shannon. His passengers included his two daughters, his son-in-law and a family friend. They were identified as: 24-year-old Southeastern University student Olivia Shannon, 26-year-old Baltimore teacher Victoria Shannon Worthington, 27-year-old University of Maryland law student Peter Worthington Jr. and 32-year-old Lakeland teacher Krista Clayton.