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Colo. Plane Crash Kills Eight

A small jet crashed in freezing drizzle as it approached the Pueblo airport Wednesday, killing all eight people aboard, including four employees of the retailer Circuit City, authorities said.

The plane was registered to Circuit City Stores Inc., the nation's second largest consumer electronics chain. Pueblo County Sheriff Dan Corsentino said the victims were a pilot, co-pilot and six passengers.

The plane, en route from Richmond, Va., where Circuit City is based, went down about five miles east of the airport on largely undeveloped land between Pueblo and the Army's sprawling Pueblo Chemical Depot.

A small fire erupted after the crash but was quickly extinguished, said Steve Douglas of the Pueblo County Emergency Management Department.

Two witnesses told investigators they heard loud popping noises from the twin-jet Cessna Citation C-560 shortly before the crash at about 9 a.m., Corsentino said.

Circuit City officials in Richmond said four of those aboard were company employees but none were executives. The company released no other details pending notification of next of kin.

The National Weather Service reported low clouds, fog and freezing drizzle with visibility of about six miles at the airport at the time.

The National Transportation Safety Board planned to send a team of investigators.

It was the fourth fatal crash of a small plane in Colorado in the past three months. A Nov. 28 crash in Montrose killed three people, including the 14-year-old son of NBC Sports executive Dick Ebersol. In December, two planes crashed a week apart at Centennial Airport in suburban Denver. Two people were killed in each crash.

Earlier Wednesday, Circuit City said it will close 19 superstores, five regional offices and a distribution center by the month's end as it attempts to improve its lagging finances. The company has more than 600 stores in the United States.

On Tuesday, Circuit City received a $3.25 billion buyout offer from Highfields Capital Management, a Boston investment firm that holds a 6.8 percent stake in the retailer. Circuit City's board of directors is evaluating the $17 a share bid.

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