Four people were confirmed dead Friday after the small plane they occupied crashed during an attempted landing at an airport near Silver City, a New Mexico State Police spokesman said.
The plane crashed about 4 p.m. during a second attempted landing at the Whiskey Creek Airport, a small public airport located about four miles east of Silver City in Grant County, State Police Sgt. Damyan Brown said.
The identities of those killed remained unknown, Brown said. Authorities were on the scene of the charred aircraft late Friday, he said.
The aircraft reportedly had attempted an earlier landing, but pulled up before attempting the second landing, which resulted in the crash, Brown said. The crash caused a grass fire that led to the evacuation of a nearby trailer park, he said. The fire had been extinguished by 7 p.m.
According to a Silver City-Sun News report, one person who witnessed the crash said the plane circled around in the air before taking a nose dive to the ground.
Ivan Martinez, 26, a maintenance man for the Gospel Mission, had just gotten home from work when he saw the plane go straight down from where he lives in nearby Rio de Arenas Trailer Park.
“There was a big ball of fire,” Martinez told the Sun-News. “I saw it go down and it was a big smoke that came up.”
State Police Lt. Robert McDonald said he believes the victims were Grant County residents.
About 40 to 50 law enforcement and firefighting personnel, including the Silver City Fire Department, the Silver City Police Department, the Grant County Sheriff’s Department, the Whiskey Creek Volunteer Fire Department and State Police, responded to the call.
McDonald said the Federal Aviation Administration will arrive at the scene of the crash this morning to begin to investigate the cause.