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Victims of Las Cruces plane crash identified; FAA, NTSB investigating cause

By Tom Scott
Stephanie Valle, Anchor and Reporter, StephanieV@kvia.com
Denise Olivas, Anchor / Reporter, deniseo@kvia.com
Published On: Aug 27 2014 10:11:40 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 28 2014 10:47:11 PM CDT

ABC-7's Stephanie Valle reports on the latest on the investigation into a crash that killed a pilot, two medical crew members and a cancer patient.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -

ABC-7 THURSDAY UPDATE:

The investigation continues Thursday into a plane crash that abruptly ended the lives of four people.

It happened Wednesday night, half a mile from the Southern New Mexico Fairgrounds near Las Cruces.

The National Transportation Safety Board told ABC-7 the plane -- a Cessna 421-C -- was headed from Las Cruces to Phoenix with a cancer patient and a medical crew in tow.

That crew included the pilot, Freddie Martinez, 28; nurse Monica Chavez, 35, from Las Cruces; and medic Taurean Summers, 28, from El Paso.

The family of the patient, Frederick Green, was with him as he boarded and recorded cell phone video of the plane as it taxied down the runway at the Las Cruces airport.

State police told the ABC-7 New Mexico Mobile Newsroom the plane crashed minutes later.

"I'm devastated. You just think something like this is never going to happen to any of your family members," Green's brother, Leslie Green, told ABC-7.

Leslie said Frederick was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor in June and was headed to Phoenix for surgery.

Frederick had just turned 59 years old and leaves behind a son.

His brother Leslie is still trying to absorb the new reality.

"I can't change what happened. It happened, I just got to move on," he said.

As for what happened, an NTSB investigator is Las Cruces for the next two days.

"We'll be very carefully documenting all the status of the airplane. The flight controls, the engines, the propellers. I'll be interviewing witnesses that saw the airplane crash," said Tom Latson, an investigator with the NTSB.

The federal agency expects to have a preliminary report on the crash in a week, and a full report completed in six months to a year.

The NTSB told ABC-7, crews will be removing the plane debris Friday. 

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ORIGINAL STORY (WEDNESDAY):

New Mexico State Police say a twin-engine prop plane crashed west of the Southern New Mexico Fairgrounds Wednesday night.

ABC-7 confirmed the plane was carrying a medical crew and a cancer patient flying from El Paso to Phoenix.

Lt. James Frietze with New Mexico State Police said the plane belonged to Elite Medical Transport.

All four people on board were killed when the plane crashed Wednesday near the Southern New Mexico Fairgrounds. Frietze also confirmed the names of the victims. They are:

  • Frederick Green, 59, patient, of Las Cruces
  • Taurean Summers, 28, paramedic, of El Paso
  • Monica Chavez, 35, nurse, of El Paso
  • Freddy Martinez, 29, pilot, of El Paso

A witness told ABC-7 that he saw a red and white plane with its landing gear down and then saw the plane hit the ground. The witness saw a plume of smoke and then a fireball and explosion.

State police and emergency crews are on the scene. Officials say it was bound for Phoenix.

"We are deeply grieved by the loss of the patient and our friends and coworkers.  Our thoughts, prayers and support are with their families and friends," Rob Campion, president of Elite Medical Transport said in a statement. "We are cooperating with the FAA and NTSB as they conduct an investigation of the accident.  The NTSB will be the lead agency in the investigation and we request that any further questions be referred to that agency. "

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