ADDISON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – John Paul II High School in Plano confirmed two students were among those killed in a plane crash at the Addison Municipal Airport over the weekend.
Sophomore Alice Maritato and All Saints Catholic School 8th grader Dylan Maritato were on the plane when it when down. The teenager’s mother, Ornella Ellard, and stepfather, Brian Ellard, were also onboard and are included in the 10 people confirmed dead.
Ellard was part owner of an Oak Lawn-area restaurant Mille-Lire.
The restaurant issued the following statement:
“We are incredibly saddened by the tragic loss of our co-owner Brian Ellard and family Ornella, Alice and Dylan. Mille Lire was built around the tradition of our family, and as you can imagine, this sudden loss has affected us all. Our doors are still open and we are thankful for the support of our community. We continue to ask for thoughts and prayers for everyone involved.”
Officials have also confirmed the identity of co-pilot Matt “MJ” Palmer. Palmer, who married just last year, was a graduate of Boswell High School in Fort Worth.
Bishop Edward J. Burns of the Diocese of Dallas released the following statement on the tragedy:
“We mourn the loss of ten people in the recent airplane crash at Addison Airport. Our hearts and prayers go out to the family members of those tragically killed. We commend the deceased into the arms of God’s love and mercy. At the same time, the Catholic Diocese of Dallas grieves with the communities of All Saints Catholic School in Dallas and John Paul II High School in Plano as we mourn the deaths of passengers Dylan and Alice Maritato, and their mother and stepfather, Ornella and Brian Ellard. As a community, we are saddened at the tragic loss of all who perished in the crash and offer special prayers for their families. Please join me in praying God will bring strength, grace, and peace to their family members and all those who loved them.”
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators returned to the scene early Monday.
The twin-engine Beechcraft King Air plane crashed into a private hangar just after 9:00 a.m. Sunday. Moments after the plane slammed into the building Air Traffic Control radioed, “Everybody just standby, we had a accident on the field… so expect not to go out anytime soon.”
Federal officials confirmed two crew members and eight passengers were on the plane. Witnesses say the plane had just taken off when it veered hard left and dropped its wing.
The plane burst into flames when it hit the hanger, sending thick black smoke billing into the air. Before nightfall on Sunday investigators were able to walk through the charred crash scene.
Officials are still trying to determine what caused the plane, that was headed from Addison to St. Petersburg Florida, to go down and say their focus today will be on trying to find perishable evidence. Experts say investigators will most likely start by looking at engine failure, pilot error and weight issues as possible causes of the crash.
In addition to identifying the dead, investigators are also gathering background information on those at the controls of the plane.
“We do not know the condition of the flight crew in terms of their prior experience,” explained National Transportation Safety Board Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg. “We don’t know if they’ve flown together or not. But that will definitely come out in the investigation. There will be a deep dive into the pilot’s background.”
It’s unclear what communication the plane had with air traffic controllers.
According to Landsberg, there was some initial confusion about the owner of plane because the craft had recently been sold and the tail number changed. Monday morning the plane’s former owner, “Planemasters” out of Chicago, confirmed that the plane was sold to Addison-based “EE Operations” and the new tail number was registered in April.
NTSB lead investigator Jennifer Rodi said investigators will be, “… looking into the man, the machine, and the environment. Man specifically; the flight crew onboard‚ their training, knowledge and experience as it applies to the aircraft and the operations.”
Early Monday afternoon CBS 11 News confirmed that all of the passengers on the plane were members of the Bent Tree Country Club in Dallas.
NTSB investigators are soliciting help from witnesses, looking for any photos or videos that might have been shot of the crash.
On Wednesday, Addison will hold its annual Independence Day festival — Kaboom Town! — and planes taking part in the event will fly in and out of the airport. A spokesperson said the show will go on, and the victims of the crash and first responders who tried to help will be honored during a special presentation.