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Small plane linked to NASCAR crashes into homes; 5 dead


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SANFORD, Fla. -- A small plane registered to a company linked to NASCAR's late chairman crashed into a suburban Orlando neighborhood Tuesday, killing at least two people on board and three on the ground, authorities said.


Two homes were destroyed in fires sparked by the crash.


The identities of the dead were not released and NASCAR did not immediately provide any details. A NASCAR spokesman in Charlotte, N.C., said the public relations staff in Daytona Beach was "in the information gathering stage" and that he knew no details at this point.



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Dr. Bruce Kennedy, husband of International Speedway Corp. President Lesa France Kennedy, was killed this morning when the plane he was piloting crashed into a Sanford neighborhood, setting two houses on fire, according to informed sources close to Daytona International Speedway and NASCAR. At least four other persons were killed, including two children, Sanford Fire Chief Gerard Ransom confirmed about noon. The identities of the dead were not released and NASCAR did not immediately provide any details but at least four informed sources confirmed the identity of the Daytona Beach plastic surgeon to The News-Journal. A NASCAR spokesman in Charlotte, NC, said the public relations staff in Daytona Beach was "in the information gathering stage" and that he knew no details at this point. Kennedy was piloting the Cessna 310 when it went down about 8:50 a.m. shortly after takeoff from Daytona International Airport. At a briefing shortly before 11am/et, the Seminole County Sheriff's office said the pilot and co-pilot were both killed in the crash. The plane crashed into one house and the resulting fire ignited another house next door. The crash occurred on Willowbay Ridge Court at a subdivision called The Preserve at Lake Monroe, south of U.S. 17-92 and east of Interstate 4. Located near the Central Florida Zoo and the Orlando Sanford International Airport, the subdivision is comprised of new two-story single family homes. "It was an extremely intense fire," said Matt Minnetto, a fire investigator with Sanford Fire Department. Minnetto said a boy, believed to be about 10 years old, was among the injured, with about 80% to 90% of his body burned. Joe Brown, spokesman for Orlando Regional Medical Center, confirmed that two adults and child had been taken to that facility. He said he could release no names or conditions of the patients.

The twin-engine plane 310 was registered to Competitor Liaison Bureau Inc. of Daytona Beach, said Kathleen Bergen with the Federal Aviation Administration. Competitor Liaison is based in Daytona Beach and lists William C. France, the late chairman of NASCAR, as its registered agent in online records from the Department of State Division of Corporations. James C. France also is listed as an officer of the company. The plane was traveling from Daytona Beach to Lakeland when the pilot declared smoke in the cockpit. The plane tried to land at the Orlando Sanford International Airport when it crashed about a mile or two north of the airport, Bergen said. At a news briefing, authorities confirmed that two people died in the plane. Three people in the home that sustained the direct hit were injured, including a mother, father and 10-year-old boy who sustained burns over 80 to 90% of his body.

A Lake Mary firefighter who was off duty and without protective equipment was treated for smoke inhalation. The firefighter was the first to arrive on the scene, entered the home and rescued the boy.The crash call came about 8:30am. A witness saw the plane teetering as it was coming across Lake Monroe. It hit the rear of one of two houses on Willowbay Ridge Street. The resulting fire spread quickly because of the aviation fuel aboard. The two homes and the plane were completely destroyed. National Transportation Safety Board Spokesman Ted Lopatkiewicz said an investigator has been sent to the scene. "You're looking at the maintenance history of the aircraft, the flight history of the pilot and weather conditions," Lopatkiewicz said of some the information the investigator will collect. A preliminary report will be available within a couple weeks while a complete investigation could take up to a year, Lopatkiewicz said. Kennedy's death came just five weeks after the June 4 death of Lesa France Kennedy's father, Bill France Jr. She serves as president of the family-run International Speedway Corp. The couple was married May 7, 1988 at Seabreeze United Church. They have one son, Ben, now about 15. FAA records confirm he received his commercial pilot certification on May 24




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