SEDONA, AZ - A plane that crashed at Sedona Airport leaving three people dead is registered to a former Olympian, according to reports.
CNN on Thursday afternoon confirmed the twin-engine plane belongs to Patrick Porter of Albuquerque, N.M., a distance runner who competed in the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the plane was departing from the airport around 9 a.m. when it went off the south end of the runway and down a tree-covered sloping hill.
Kenitzer said the aircraft caught fire.
Photos from ABC15 viewer Gry Wesenberg showed a thick plume of black smoke coming from a wooded area near the airport just after the crash.
Local authorities say three people were on board and that all three died. Witnesses at the scene told ABC15 that a man and two children were killed in the crash.
Sedona Police spokesman Ron Wheeler says the bodies were removed from the charred wreckage Thursday afternoon.
Witnesses told ABC15 the plane never really made it off the ground during takeoff.
Joe Waters said he saw tire marks on the runway, suggesting the pilot tried to put the brakes on before crashing through an airport gate.
The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are now investigating. Kenitzer said the NTSB will be the lead investigative agency.