OCALA, Fla. – A car traveling at high speed down a private airport runway ran off an embankment and was airborne for 200 feet before smashing into a tree early Saturday, killing all five young men in the vehicle, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
Investigators did not know whether the BMW was alone or was racing another car on the air strip at the exclusive "fly-in" community of Jumbolair Aviation Estates, where pilot-actor John Travolta has a home, officials said.
According to the preliminary investigation, the car ran off the 85-foot-high embankment at the end of the runway. When it struck the large tree, the car split in half, scattering wreckage over an area of 200 square feet.
Three of the five occupants were ejected, said Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Mike Burroughs.
"It's too early in the investigation to determine a speed and also to determine whether seat belts were in use at the time of the crash," Burroughs said.
Two of the five men — ages 18 to 20 — were from Ocala, two were from Fairfield and one was from Anthony, but it was not clear if any of the men lived within the gated community.
Police identified all five victims, but only released the name of two of them, according to The Ocala Star-Banner.
Jacob James Casey, 19, and James Devon Hime, 19, were both pronounced dead at the scene, the newspaper reported.