Five people are dead after a small aircraft crashed on Christmas Eve in Florida, and while the official investigation will take some time, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says one obvious factor is at play: "Clearly, no one should have tried a takeoff," he tells WFLA, referring to dense fog that was blanketing Bartow Municipal Airport at the time. In fact, Judd says he watched a video shot by a photographer who happened to be at the scene around 7:15am, and the twin-engine Cessna 340 was not even visible on the runway as it was taking off. Killed were pilot John Shannon, 70; his two daughters, Olivia Shannon, 24, and Victoria Shannon Worthington, 26; son-in-law Peter Worthington, 27; and a family friend, Krista Clayton, 32, reports USA Today.
Judd says pilot Shannon was a longtime friend and a "good man," but the sheriff says he just can't understand the decision to take off for Key West. "You know, certainly, we wish we could rewind this and if we could, I would wrestle him to the floor to keep him from getting into this airplane this morning," says Judd. Shannon was an attorney in Lakeland, and the five were headed to a holiday celebration, notes the AP. Another factor of note: Shannon's pilot license allows him to fly solely by the instrument panel in low visibility.