WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The pilot of a plane that crashed into a Florida lake this month, killing himself and four others, reported the engine was running roughly and was trying to return to the airport, federal officials said.

The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report on the March 8 crash. The twin-engine Piper aircraft went down about 400 yards from Lake Okeechobee's southeast shore near the Pahokee Airport. It had taken off from Tampa International Airport and was bound for West Palm Beach. 

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Pilot Eduardo Mulet, 45, of West Palm Beach, reported to air traffic control that his left engine was running rough, so he was going to shut down the engine and divert to Pahokee Airport. 

The airport cleared the plane for landing, and the pilot's last transmission was he had the airport in sight.

Witnesses said they saw the plane going down at a 45-degree angle before it hit Lake Okeechobee.

Killed with Mulet was four attorneys at the Peterson Bernard law firm: Heather Bridwell, 43, of Jupiter; Matthew Fiorello, 36, of Palm Beach Gardens; Edwin Mortell III, 54, of Stuart; Eduardo Mulet, 45, of West Palm Beach; and Eric Peterson, 73, of Lighthouse Point.  

NTSB officials are still examining the wreckage.

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