Six Reported Killed in Plane Crash
PASCO, Wash. (AP) _ A twin-engine commuter plane crashed and burst into flames after trying to land at an airport, killing the six people aboard, authorities said.
The United Express plane went down 100 feet short of a runway at the Tri- Cities Airport, said Dave Duff, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman in Seattle.
Visibility was seven miles and winds were calm when the Jetstream turbo prop went down at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, Duff said.
The plane apparently split in half on impact and fire broke out in the forward section about one minute later, Duff said.
One of the first to reach the scene was firefighter Dave Bickle, who said he ″didn’t know how anybody could have survived. It was a ball of flame.″
The year-old aircraft had a two-man crew, Capt. Barry ″Will″ Roberts, 38, and First Officer Doug McInroe, 25, both of Kennewick, said Craig Belmondo, president of the airline.
Belmondo said the passengers included Kim Shewmaker of Richland, a United Express pilot; Rey Resendez of Duncanville, Texas; and W. Kingry of Denver. Kingry’s first name was not available and the identity of the sixth victim was being withheld pending notification of relatives. All passengers were male, Belmondo said, correcting a report that a woman was on board.
Belmondo estimated the plane crashed 500 to 700 feet short of the runway and said it plowed into a sagebrush field where it burst into flames.
He said he could not speculate on the cause of the crash.
Belmondo said there had been no reports of problems during the flight from Seattle to Pasco via Yakima.
United Express is one of five commuter airlines of the same name around the country operating under a marketing agreement with United Airlines. It uses the United logo and acts as a feeder service to the larger airline.
The commuter airline is based in this town 180 miles southeast of Seattle. It serves Washington state, Oregon, Idaho and Montana and had a fleet of 25 planes.
The Jetstream is built by British Aerospace and can hold 21 people, said Randy Lanfell, a United Express pilot.