Four American tourists on a dream vacation were killed overnight when their small plane slammed into an Australian shopping center. Dramatic video shows the Melbourne outlet mall on fire after the private charter crashed into the building. The pilot, who was Australian, was also killed. Vladimir Duthiers reports.
Police and paramedics responded to the crash site where a twin-engine Beechcraft Super King Air aircraft crashed into the Melbourne Direct Factory Outlet Mall located adjacent to the Melbourne Airport.
The twin-engine Beechcraft Super King Air had just taken off about 9:00 a.m. LOCAL TIME Monday from Melbourne’s second-biggest airport in the suburb of Essendon. Passengers were heading for a golfing trip to King Island, 160 miles southward in Tasmania, officials said.
The aircraft crashed into the Direct Factory Outlet mall that adjoins the airport about 9:15 a.m. — 45 minutes before the shopping center’s regularly scheduled hours would have opened doors for business.
The U.S. Embassy in Australia confirmed that four Americans and the pilot were killed. No people on the ground were killed or injured.
The pilot reported a “catastrophic engine failure” just before the crash, according to police. Max Quartermain, the owner of the charter company Corporate and Leisure Travel, was identified to be the pilot that was killed.
The passenger victims identities were released by relatives on social media or by The Herald Sun. Killed were Greg DeHaven, of Spicewood, Texas, Russell Munsch, Glenn Garland and a fourth victim whose identity was not initially available.
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“Dear friends and family, my handsome athletic big brother was killed today in a plane accident while on his ‘once in a lifetime’ trip to Australia.”
— Denelle Wicht, Greg De Haven’s sister post on Facebook
Denelle Wicht said her brother, born in 1946, was flying to an island on a charter flight with two friends to play golf.
A plane flying from Melbourne to Australia’s King Island crashed into a shopping centre in Essendon, a suburb of northern Melbourne on Tuesday, killing all five people on board, including the pilot.
— Nine News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) February 20, 2017
— Mïkey Cahîll (@JoeyLightbulb) February 20, 2017
— Nine News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) February 21, 2017
— Paul Stacchino (@MFBChief) February 20, 2017