4 die in small plane crash in Mississippi, authorities say


TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — Four people died Monday after a small plane crashed shortly after taking off from Tupelo Regional Airport in Mississippi.

Tupelo city spokeswoman Leesha Faulkner said emergency officials were called to the site about a half-mile north of the airport about 8:30 a.m. The pilot and three passengers all died when the single-engine plane crashed in a field adjoining the Tupelo Buffalo Park & Zoo.

“We don’t have any survivors,” Tupelo Fire Department public information officer Cathy Gault told The Associated Press.

Lee County officials did not immediately release the names of the dead.

Deputy Fire Chief Jimmy Avery told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (http://bit.ly/1rP6nbE)that the aircraft was a Bonanza B36 single-engine, six-seater plane. FlightAware.com shows the plane, registered to a man in Kerrville, Texas, had flown from there to Tupelo on Sunday. It was scheduled to continue to Charlottesville, Virginia, on Monday.

The weather was overcast with a light wind at the time the plane took off. Faulkner said federal officials are traveling to Tupelo to investigate.

“There is quite a bit of debris. The plane was broken up,” Tupelo Police Chief Bart Aguirre said. “We found some bodies on the scene. Right now, we are waiting for the (Federal Aviation Administration) to arrive and begin their investigation.”

Laurie Carwile, who works in the gift shop at the Tupelo Buffalo Park & Zoo, said she heard the crash and later saw smoke.

“We actually thought it was thunder,” Carwile said. “I was in the gift shop and this man came beating on the door telling me to open the door. I thought we were being robbed. He was actually trying to tell me the plane had come down and to call 911.”

Carwile said no animals were hurt at the park, where buffalo, zebras and camels live, but “they all seem to be on edge a little bit.”

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Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, http://djournal.com