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Small plane crash in heavy fog kills five in Florida

By Daniel Uria

Dec. 24 (UPI) -- A Florida sheriff released the identities of five people who were killed in a small plane crash after taking off from a Florida airport in heavy fog on Sunday.

The pilot was identified as 70-year-old John Shannon, who was flying with his two daughters, 24-year-old Olivia Shannon and 26-year-old Victoria Shannon-Worthington, as well as 27-year-old Peter Worthington Jr. and 32-year-old Krista Clayton to spend Christmas Eve in Key West.

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All five were killed on impact or immediately after, Polk County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Carrie E. Horstman said.

Investigators said the twin-engine Cessna 340 plane pulled out of a hangarat Bartow Municipal Airport at about 6:30 a.m. and took off about 45 minutes later before it traveled into a patch of heavy fog and crashed.

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"This is a horrific tragedy, especially on Christmas Eve, and the victims are their families are in our prayers," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.

Polk County Fire Rescue arrived to find the plane engulfed in flames at 7:31 a.m. and managed to extinguish the blaze about 15 minutes later spokeswoman Tina Mann said.

"There was no chance of survival," Judd told WFLA. "The only thing you can say is nobody suffered."

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Officials haven't determined the cause of the crash, but Judd said he saw a video of the crash that indicated the aircraft shouldn't have taken flight in the heavy fog.

"Clearly, no one should have tried a takeoff," he said.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will determine the probable cause of the crash and Polk County Sheriff's Office is conducting a death investigation.

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