BARTOW, Fla. – A prominent Lakeland lawyer, his daughters and other family members were killed Christmas Eve morning as their plane crashed amid heavy fog.
John Shannon, 70, was piloting the twin-engine plane for a day trip to Key West, said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd to reporters Sunday afternoon. Shannon's two daughters, a son-in-law and a family friend also were on board when the plane crashed around 7:15 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 24.
They are identified as 24-year-old Olivia Shannon, 26-year-old Victoria Shannon Worthington, 27-year-old Peter Worthington and 32-year-old Krista Clayton.
The Cessna 340 aircraft caught fire when it crashed shortly after takeoff.
It was supposed to be a 45-minute to an hour-long flight to the Keys, Judd said.
Although federal investigators from the FAA and NTSB now are tasked to figure out what caused the crash, visibility at the airport around the time of the crash close to zero because of heavy fog.
Photos: 5 people killed in twin-engine plane crash at Bartow airport
Judd said authorities are in possession of a video that shows the crash; it was taken by a photographer wanting to capture the fog.
"He said, 'I couldn't believe that they were taking off in this fog,'" Judd said. "... there was not one sign of the aircraft that was, obviously, was soaked in a very dense, very heavy fog at the airbase."
Judd spoke highly of Shannon, who was well-known in the Lakeland area as being active in his community. The sheriff -- at times becoming emotional while speaking of his friend -- said he was told Shannon brought cookies for the Bartow airport staff.
"There was no chance of survival -- ever," Judd said. "The crash is so horrific that no one suffered."
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