Authorities: 2 Texas couples, boy killed in southern NM plane crash; 2 brothers injured
RUIDOSO, N.M. – RUIDOSO, N.M. (AP) — Five members of two Texas families were killed and two brothers were injured Thursday when a twin-engine airplane apparently overshot a runway while landing and crashed at a regional airport in south-central New Mexico, authorities said.
The survivors, identified by New Mexico state police as 16-year-old Alexander Richey and 12-year-old Christopher Richey, were airlifted to a hospital in El Paso, Texas, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford. Their conditions were not immediately known.
Killed in the crash were the boys' parents, 46-year-old Karl Lowell Richey and his wife, 44-year-old Keri Richey; and Rodney and Delaine Duree, both 50, and their son, 11-year-old Lake Duree.
Police said both families were from Granbury, Texas.
The six-seat Cessna 310 was registered to Rod Aviation in Granbury, which is owned by Rodney Duree.
Lunsford said FAA officials were trying to determine the plane's route before the 10 a.m. MDT crash at Sierra Blanca Regional Airport, just outside of the mountain community of Ruidoso. No flight plan was filed for Thursday, he said, but the pilot received a weather briefing Wednesday for flight conditions between Cleburne, Texas, and Ruidoso.
"We do not know whether he completed the flight on Wednesday or waited until today to depart," Lunsford said. "There was no contact with air traffic controllers."
Cleburne city spokesman Charlie Hodges said the aircraft had stopped Thursday morning in the Texas community, located about 25 miles south of Fort Worth.
The plane, piloted by two men, landed at 8:08 a.m. CDT in Cleburne, where two women and three children boarded with their luggage.
John Frank, executive director of the Cessna Pilots Association, said the Cessna 310 has room for six people and includes a luggage compartment toward the rear. He said the only way seven passengers could fit into the aircraft would be if one or more were under the age of two — what pilots consider "an infant in arms."
"This will all come out as things get sorted out as to who was on board and the ages and all of that, but the aircraft has a maximum of six seats," Frank said.
According to federal records, the plane was built in 1980 and had turbocharged engines.
Authorities at the scene said it was too early to tell what might have caused the crash. Investigators with the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board were en route to the airport, about 130 miles south of Albuquerque.
The crash sparked a fire that burned about an acre of forest near the end of the runway. Firefighters were able to get the flames under control.
Five people died Aug. 5, 2007, when a medical airplane crashed into a hillside near Ruidoso while transporting an ill toddler to Albuquerque. Investigators concluded the pilot became disoriented shortly after taking off from the Ruidoso airport.