Three people were killed on Sunday and a fourth suffered life-threatening injuries when a small plane crashed shortly after takeoff and caught fire in a wooded area in Florida's Panhandle.
The Bay County Sheriff's Office told The News Herald in Panama City that the plane caught fire when it crashed about 9:25 a.m. near Fountain, according to The Associated Press. The pilot was taken to a hospital in "extremely critical condition" and three passengers in the plane died.
Investigators believed the plane had taken off from a small grass airstrip nearby.
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The News Herald identified the passengers killed as Kathleen Shultz, Nancy Moore and Nicholas Hoang. Pilot Patrick Shultz was rushed to a burn unit in “extremely critical” condition.
Although their ages and hometowns were not released Sunday, police said they were three adults and a youth and were believed to be family members.
Fire crews from three counties responded to battle the wildfire sparked by the plane’s explosion.
The wreckage was in such condition that deputies could not determine the type of plane. Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said it was a Piper PA28.
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