Witness: Plane never left the ground in Hanscom crash that kille - FOX 13 News

Witness: Plane never left the ground in Hanscom crash that killed 7

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BEDFORD, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com/AP) -- The plane that crashed and killed all 7 on board at Hanscom Field never became airborne, a witness of the crash told the National Transportation Safety Board, the government agency investigating the crash.

The investigation into the crash of a small private plane that killed two pilots, one cabin attendant and four passengers Saturday night was still in the beginning stages Sunday afternoon, Luke Schiada, an NTSB senior aviation investigator said in a media briefing.

Officials said the plane ran off runway 11 at about 9:40 p.m. Saturday as it was taking off. Officials told the FAA the aircraft then caught fire. It ended up approximately 2,000 feet from the runway, creating a large debris field. After leaving the paved section of the runway, Schiada said, the plane then traveled down an embankment, struck an antenna, then a fence, and finally stopped in a gully.

As the aircraft was consumed by flames, Schiada said, it collapsed into itself.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that its co-owner, Lewis Katz, was among those who died in the crash.

Katz, 72, also previously owned the New Jersey Devils and the Nets. According to the Inquirer, Katz, 72, owned The Daily News and Philly.com in addition to the Inquirer.

"Words cannot express our sadness at this time regarding the sudden loss of Lewis Katz. Interstate General Media extends our deepest condolences to Mr. Katz's family, friends, and to so many that his life and generosity touched through his countless acts of kindness," reads a statement from the company that operates the Inquirer.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released a statement Sunday, saying everyone at the NBA was extremely saddened to learn of the tragic, sudden death.

"Lewis was a trusted friend and valued member of the NBA family," Silver said, describing Katz as a visionary businessman who touched the lives of so many.

In a statement to FOX 29 in Philadelphia, Katz's son Drew said, "My father was my best friend. He taught me everything. He never forgot where and how he grew up, and he worked tirelessly to support his community in countless ways that were seen and unseen. He loved his native city of Camden and his adopted home of Philadelphia. He believed in strengthening education through his founding of charter schools, his support of the Boys & Girls Clubs and his generosity to his alma maters, Temple University and Dickinson Law School. But his greatest accomplishment by far was being the most amazing father to my sister and me, and grandparent to his four grandchildren."

The family of Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin confirmed Katz attended a fundraiser at her Concord home Saturday night for the Concord River Institute, Kearns Goodwin's son Michael Goodwin founded. They said Goodwin has been friends with Katz for more than 20 years.

"I have lost a great friend, his family has lost a great father and grandfather, and the country has lost a great man," Kearns Goodwin said in her statement.

Anne Leeds, the 74-year-old wife of Longport, NJ commissioner James P. Leeds, was also on board. She was invited to attend the fundraiser with Katz, who was her neighbor. James Leeds said he received a text message from his wife just four minutes before the crash, saying they were about to take off. Leeds was a retired pre-school teacher.

FOX 29 in Philadelphia has learned that Marcella Dalsey, Executive Director of The Drew A. Katz Foundation and President of KATZ Academy Charter School, was among the passengers onboard the aircraft. FOX 29 confirmed that the fourth victim was Susan Asbell, wife of a former New Jersey prosecutor.

The identities of others who died in the crash were not immediately released. That information will come from the Middlesex District Attorney's office, Schiada said.

A spokeswoman for the Middlesex DA's office said the names of the victims would be released once the state medical examiner's office conducts autopsies and positively identifies the victims.

Emergency crews, including a Hazardous Materials team dealing with the fuel spilled from the aircraft, responded to the scene and worked through the night.

The Gulfstream IV plane was headed to Atlantic City International Airport in New Jersey at the time, and had not re-fueled while at Hanscom, Schiada said.

Investigators are looking to the plane's flight data recorder and multiple sources of video around the airport to help determine what happened and what caused the crash. The NTSB will also look into the pilot's history, and the plane's maintenance history.

Kevin O'Leary, the president of an aircraft consulting and brokerage firm based at Hanscom, says the Gulfstream IV has one of the best safety records in private aviation.

Neither the the NTSB,  the FAA nor the Massachusetts Port Authority, which operates Hanscom Field in Bedford, had any details on what caused the crash. The air field will remain closed as an investigation continues. A preliminary report will be posted to the NTSB's website in approximately 10 days, Schiada said.

This is a developing story. Stay with MyFoxBoston.com for details as they become available.

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