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Medical transport plane crashes in New Mexico, killing four

Fiery plane crash claims four lives in southern New Mexico
Phoenix-bound medical plane crashes, killing patient, pilot, nurse and paramedic

Four people were killed Wednesday night when a Phoenix-bound medical transport plane went down in a fiery crash shortly after takeoff in southern New Mexico, police said.

The twin-engine propeller plane was found burning near the Dona Ana County Fairgrounds in Las Cruces around 7 p.m. Wednesday, roughly 50 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a statement from local police.

The plane had taken off from Las Cruces Airport, less than 10 miles from the crash site, police said. Witnesses told police the aircraft was flying low to the ground before crashing.

The aircraft belonged to Amigos Aviation, based in Hartinger, Texas, and was being contracted by Elite Medical Transport, based in El Paso. 

Elizabeth Cory, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, told the Los Angeles Times the aircraft was a multi-engine Cessna 421. 

The plane's pilot, a paramedic, a nurse and the patient who was being taken to Phoenix were all killed in the crash, police said. 

On Thursday, police identified the pilot as 29-year-old Freddie Martinez of El Paso. The medical personnel were identified as Tauren Summers, 27, and Monica Chavez, 35, also of El Paso.

The patient was identified as 59-year-old Las Cruces resident Fredrick Green. It was not clear why he was being taken to Phoenix.

The cause of the crash is under investigation by the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board. Police have said there was no rain or high wind in the area at the time of the crash.

A spokesman for Elite Medical Transport was not immediately available for comment.

Follow @JamesQueallyLAT for breaking news

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

6:02 p.m.: This post was updated with comments from the FAA.

This post originally published at 5:15 p.m.

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