Medical Flight Crashes in West Texas, 5 Killed

By: CBS News
By: CBS News

(CBS/AP) An air ambulance crashed shortly after takeoff from a West Texas airport shortly after midnight Sunday, killing all 5 people on board.

The crash happened about 12:15 a.m., about a mile east of Alpine-Casparis Municipal Airport, around 200 miles southeast of El Paso.

The twin-engine Cessna 421 had just taken off for Midland International Airport in Midland when it went down in an open area, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

CBS Affiliate KOSA reports that the sheriff's department said weather conditions were clear at the time, and believes the cause could be mechanical.

On board the aircraft was 78-year-old patient Guy Richard Folger of Alpine; his 59-year-old wife, Mary Folger; two flight nurses, 49-year-old Sharon Falkener of Fort Davis, and 42-year-old Tracy Chambers of Alpine; and 59-year-old pilot Ted Caffarel of Beaumont.

Caffarel was apparently trying to make an emergency landing when the plane hit a rut in the muddy field, overturned and burned, the Texas Department of Public Safety said.

The National Transportation Safety Board will lead the investigation, FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Corey said.

The FAA listed the aircraft as registered to O'Hara Flying Service II LP of Amarillo. Company owner Denny O'Hara declined to comment to The Associated Press.

KOSA reports that this is not the first time O'Hara Flying Service has had trouble.

A report from the NTSB said another plane of the same type operated by the Amarillo-based company almost crashed a little over a year ago.

The NTSB reports said on May 8, 2009, the plane's right engine suddenly stopped working shortly after takeoff from the Alpine airport due to a mechanical problem, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing in a field. He received minor injuries and was the only person on board.

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