Three individuals tragically lost their lives in a plane crash on the Greenfield-Leyden line on Sunday. Massachusetts State Police have identified the victims as 68-year-old William Hampton from Indian Orchard, 53-year-old Fredrika Ballard from Southwick, and 29-year-old Chad Davidson from Woodstock, Connecticut.
The ill-fated aircraft was a Beechcraft 55 Baron Twin-Piston with Tail Number N7345R, owned by Fly Lugu flight school. Ballard, the owner of the flight school, Hampton, a flight instructor, and Davidson, a student pilot, were aboard the plane when it crashed.
The wreckage was discovered in a small clearing within the Leyden Wildlife Management Area at approximately 12:33 p.m. on Sunday, January 15. Greenfield firefighters and American Medical Response paramedics arrived at the scene but sadly declared all three victims dead upon their arrival.
According to authorities, the plane took off from Barnes Airport in Westfield at around 11:06 a.m. on the day of the incident. The Northwest District Attorney’s Office reported that they began the search for the crash site at 11:30 a.m. after receiving distress calls from dog walkers in Leyden and Greenfield who witnessed the plane in distress.
In response to the crash, inspectors from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) promptly arrived at the scene. Additionally, a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator is expected to arrive on Monday to further investigate the cause of the crash.
While federal authorities have not yet determined the reason behind the tragic incident, the National Weather Service confirmed that snow squalls did not affect the Greenfield area until approximately 1 p.m. that day, and wind speeds were around 10 mph during the time of the crash.
Massachusetts State Police, Greenfield Police, the Northwest District Attorney’s Office, the FAA, and the NTSB are all collaborating in the ongoing investigation to gather all the facts and circumstances surrounding the crash.
This heartbreaking plane crash has left a community mourning the loss of three lives, and our thoughts go out to the families and friends affected by this tragedy.