A “once in a lifetime” golf trip to Australia ended horribly in a fiery plane crash shortly after takeoff killing four American tourists and an Aussie pilot on Tuesday morning in the Melbourne suburb of Essendon.
Four American tourists and an Australian pilot were killed Tuesday when a small plane crashed into a shopping mall shortly after takeoff in the Australian city of Melbourne.
The pilot reported a “catastrophic engine failure” moments before the crash, police said. The U.S. Embassy in Australia confirmed that four Americans were killed.
“The U.S. Embassy in Canberra and U.S. Consulate in Melbourne are working closely with local authorities. We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance to the families of the victims,” an embassy statement said.
Greg Reynolds De Haven and Russell Munsch, both from Texas, were identified as victims by their families on social media.
Denelle Wicht, De Haven’s sister, posted on Facebook: “Dear friends and family, my handsome athletic big brother was killed today in a plane accident while on his ‘once in a lifetime’ trip to Australia.” She said her brother, who was born in 1946, was flying to an island on a charter flight with two friends to play golf.
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) February 21, 2017
The twin-engine Beechcraft Super King Air had taken off from Melbourne’s second-biggest airport in the suburb of Essendon for a golfing trip to King Island, 160 miles southward in Tasmania, officials said.
It crashed into the Direct Factory Outlet mall that adjoins the airport about 45 minutes before the shopping center was supposed to open, Police Minister Lisa Neville said.
“Looking at the fireball, it is incredibly lucky that no one was at the back of those stores or in the car park of the stores, that no one was even hurt,” Police Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane said, according to the AP.
The only saving grace is that nobody on the ground was harmed. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families.
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