3 children among the 5 dead in small plane crash near Nashville highway

Three children were among five Canadian citizens who died when their small plane crashed near Nashville, Tennessee, authorities said Tuesday.

The exact ages, names and genders of the five victims aboard the flight from Ontario weren’t immediately available, National Transportation Safety Board air safety investigator Aaron McCarter told reporters in Nashville.

The single-engine plane came down about 60 feet away from eastbound lanes of Interstate 40, near the Nashville suburb of Charlotte Park, just before 8 p.m. on Monday, officials said.

The plane had circled over John C. Tune Airport at 2,500 feet above, briefly flew away and was coming back to that airport when it lost power, McCarter said.

“For reasons unknown, the aircraft descended and approached John C. Tune Airport and passed overhead at 2,500 feet,” McCarter said. “The pilot reported that he was going to pass over the airport at 2,500 feet. Very quickly thereafter the pilot reported a catastrophic engine loss of power, a complete loss of power.”

The plane crashed about 3 miles from the airport.

“We’re still trying to determine why he decided to overfly the airport at 2,500 feet. I don’t know that yet,'” McCarter said. “We are at the infancy of this investigation. These are all things that will come to light in subsequent days.”

The pilot appeared calm as he told air traffic controllers that his prone craft was dropping fast.

“I’m declaring an emergency,” he said, according to a recording on LiveATC.net. “My engine shut down.”

Runway 2 at John C. Tune Airport was cleared for the distressed craft, but the pilot said he had already descended to 1,600 feet and doubted he’d reach the airport: “I’m going to be landing, I don’t know where.”

“Yes, I have it (the airport) in sight,” he continued. “I’m too far away, I won’t make it.”

Increasingly concerned controllers told the pilot not to give up on reaching the airport.

“Keep flying that airplane!” the tower said. “If you can glide in there, they’re clearing the runway for you!”

The plane had come from Ontario and made stops in Erie, Pennsylvania, and Mount Sterling, Kentucky, before the crash, officials said.

It had been cruising at about 10,500 feet for much of that journey, with no reported issues, McCarter said. It could take up to a year for the final NTSB report to identify a possible cause for Monday’s crash.

First appeared on www.nbcnews.com

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