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5 dead in twin-engine plane crash in Florida, authorities say

BARTOW, Fla. -- At least five people died Sunday in a plane crash at Bartow Municipal Airport in Florida, CBS Tampa affiliate WTSP-TV reported. The plane that crashed was a Cessna 340 twin-engine plane, police said in a tweet. It crashed near the end of a runway.

Investigators are likely to blame dense fog as a contributing factor in the Christmas Eve wreck, WTSP-TV added.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said a plane attempted to takeoff from the airport at about 7:15 a.m. local time. "I have reviewed some footage, and clearly no one should have tried a takeoff from this airport at 7:15 this morning. The airport was totally socked in with fog," Judd said. "This aircraft attempted to takeoff from the south to the north on the main runway, and for reasons unknown, crashed at the north end of the airport, not far from our aviation hangar."

"We know upon impact that there was a huge fire," Judd said.

Dense fog is likely a contributing factor in a deadly plane crash Sun., Dec. 24, 2017, at Polk County's Bartow Airport in Florida. WTSP-TV

The sheriff's office identified the pilot as 70-year-old Lakeland attorney John Shannon. He had filed a flight plan to fly Sunday from Bartow to Key West, Polk County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Carrie Horstman said.

Shannon's passengers included his two daughters, his son-in-law and a family friend. They were identified as: 24-year-old Southeastern University student Olivia Shannon, 26-year-old Baltimore teacher Victoria Shannon Worthington, 27-year-old University of Maryland law student Peter Worthington Jr. and 32-year-old Lakeland teacher Krista Clayton.

The Worthingtons had arrived in Florida on Saturday for the Christmas holiday, Horstman said.

The NTSB and FAA were tasked with investigating what caused the crash, WTSP-TV reported.

"It's a tragedy any day of the week," Judd said. "It is a worse tragedy on Christmas Eve. It's just manifested by the time of the year and the holidays when our families are growing closer together. That's what I tell everyone: hug your children today and your grandchildren a little tighter, and say prayers for the family of these folks on the airplane."

Bartow is about 50 miles southwest of Orlando.

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