RENO, Nev. – A small plane has crashed while approaching an airport in the town of Fallon, killing a naval air station officer and his three daughters, authorities said Saturday.
Cmdr. Luther H. Hook III, 44, died when his twin-engine Cessna 320 crashed and burst into flames Friday night about a mile from the runway after a flight from Fresno, Calif., base spokesman Zip Upham said.
Also killed were his three daughters from a previous marriage: Kaitlyn Hook, 15; Rachel Hook, 12; and Mackenzie Hook, 9.
Hook was the No. 2 officer at Naval Air Station Fallon, which meant he was responsible for "all the administrative, disciplinary and detail work that makes the base run," Upham said.
Witnesses told authorities that the plane appeared to be in distress and was maneuvering erratically shortly before the crash. According to Federal Aviation Administration records, the plane was manufactured in 1966 and had no prior incidents.
The National Weather Service said wind was gusting up to 40 mph at the time in the town about 60 miles east of Reno.
Hook had flown to Fresno on Friday to pick up his daughters and was bringing them to Fallon for the weekend when his private plane crashed, Upham said.
Hook, a 1986 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, was a decorated pilot who amassed over 2,700 flight hours in an F/A-18 Hornet, flying from the USS Kitty Hawk and other aircraft carriers.
"The fact that it's Memorial Day weekend makes the loss of our executive officer even more poignant," Upton said.
The crash was being investigated by the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board.