Feb. 20 (UPI) — Four Americans, including a retired agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, were killed Tuesday in a plane crash in Australia, authorities said.
Emergency officials in Melbourne said engine failure brought down the Beechcraft King Air plane, which witnesses said sparked a fireball at the Direct Factor Outlets Center, near Essendon Airport.
All five people on board were killed — four Americans and the Australian pilot. Three of the American victims were identified as Glenn Garland, Greg Reynolds De Haven, Russell Munsch.
Garland was the former chief executive of Texas-based CLEAResult, an energy company. De Haven, 70, worked at the FBI for 30 years and Munsch was a retired lawyer who co-founded the firm Munsch Hardt.
Witnesses said the plane appeared to be coming in low and fast before they saw an explosion at the mall. The plane hit the back of the mall, sending parts of the aircraft as far as the Tullamarine Freeway, on the opposite side of the shopping center.
“[I thought] what the hell? That doesn’t happen every day,” witness Michael Henry said. “It was crazy, like something from a movie.”
The pilot was identified as Max Quartermain, who was flying the others to King Island in the Bass Strait off the southern coast of Australia.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all those who died in today’s tragic crash,” a U.S. State Department official told NBC News. “The U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Melbourne are working closely with local authorities. We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance to the families of the victims.”