A heartbreaking tragedy struck Down Under on Feb. 21, as a small aircraft crashed into a shopping mall in Melbourne, Australia, killing all on board. Among those who lost their lives in this terrible plane crash were four Americans on vacation.
It was supposed to be a golfing holiday, but instead, this trip ended in devastation. Pilot Max Quartermain and the four Americans onboard the twin-engine Beechcraft Super King Air plane didn’t survive after their aircraft crashed into a Direct Factory Outlet mall in Melbourne, Australia on Feb. 21, according to USA Today. The five were headed to King Island, but the pilot reported “catastrophic engine failure” moments before the crash.
Max was the owner of the charter company, Corporate and Leisure Travel. Greg DeHaven, a 70-year-old retired FBI agent from Spicewood, Texas, was identified as one of the victims, according to the New York Daily News. His two friends, who were joining him on a golfing trip, were identified as Russell Munsch and Glenn Garland. The fourth victim was not immediately named. The cause of the crash wasn’t immediately known, as authorities are still conducting their investigation into this fatal accident.
The events that led to the crash of the Beechcraft King Air in Melbourne, Australia. Killing all 5. pic.twitter.com/Psm1125rg9
— Air Disasters (@AirCrashMayday) February 21, 2017
This was the worse aviation disaster in Victoria in 30 years, according to State Premier Daniel Andrews, but had it happened an hour later in the day, it could have been much worse. The crash took place 45 minutes before the shopping mall opened, according to Police Minister Lisa Neville. “Looking at the fireball, it is incredibly lucky that no one was at the back of those stores or in the car park of the stores, that no one was even hurt,” she said.
The fireball was caught on video from a passing motorist. A witness, who told ABC Radio his name was Jason, described seeing a “massive fireball” while passing by the mall in a taxi.
“I could feel the heat through the window of the taxi, and then a wheel — it looked like a plane wheel — bounced on the road and hit the front of the taxi as we were driving along,” he said. The shopping center was then closed to allow the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and the coroner’s office to conduct their investigations.
Our thoughts go out to the family and friends of those who sadly lost their life in this tragedy.