ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — State Police have identified the four people who were killed Wednesday night when a small airplane crashed in Doña Ana County.
Officers arrived to find the plane, a medical twin-engine plane, on its roof engulfed in flames around 7 p.m. near the county fairgrounds.
Fire crews extinguished the flames, but all four passengers, including a cancer patient, a pilot and two medical staff, died.
They are identified as pilot Freddy Martinez, 29, flight paramedic Tauren Summers, 27, nurse Monica Chavez, 35, and patient Fredrick Green, 59. The three crew members were from El Paso and Green was from Las Cruces, according to a State Police news release.
Green’s 55-year-old brother, Leslie, said the elder Green was living in the Phoenix area when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
He came to Las Cruces after having surgery to stay with his brother while he underwent radiation treatment.
His condition deteriorated recently, and doctors decided he should return to St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, where he was originally treated, Leslie Green said.
Green said they had a choice Wednesday to put his brother on a plane immediately or wait four hours.
“I kind of wish we had waited,” he told The Associated Press. “But you can’t change what happened.”
Green said he learned about the crash when he called the Phoenix hospital to check on his brother’s condition.
He said his brother was a mechanic with two adult sons. The two, he said, had been estranged for years before the older Green became ill.
The plane belonged to Amigos Aviation and was contracted by Elite Medical Transport. It had taken off from the Las Cruces Airport and was bound for Phoenix.
State Police said the area around the crash was free of rain and wind, and witnesses told investigators the plane was flying low to the ground before it hit a mesquite tree, flipped and burst into flames, according to New Mexico State Police.
The plane appeared largely intact Thursday morning but was badly burned, lying in a field of mesquite not far from the Las Cruces fairgrounds and just three or so miles southwest of the airport. Access to the site was blocked off Thursday afternoon.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will arrive this morning to investigate the cause of the crash.
Amigos Aviation president Robert Campion issued a statement Thursday expressing the company’s condolences and referring questions about the circumstances about the crash to the NTSB. He said the plane that crashed is a Cessna 421.
“We are deeply grieved by the loss of the patient and our friends and coworkers,” Campion said in the emailed statement. “Our thoughts, prayers and support are with their families and friends.”
Neither State Police nor Amigos Aviation could say whether the plane was taking the patient from a hospital, which hospital it might have been, or where in Phoenix the plane was going.