Two men died when a twin-engine Cessna crashed at the Hammond airport Wednesday afternoon.
The Tangipahoa Parish coroner has confirmed that both of the crash victims are men, but his office has yet to determine their ages or identifications.
The small plane had just taken off about 3:45 p.m., probably rising no higher than 200 feet, when it “nose-dived” into the ground, said Coroner Rick Foster. Little remained of the aircraft following the wreck.
“It was a bad crash, and there was a fire,” the coroner said.
Hammond Fire Chief John Thomas said the two men were the only people aboard the plane. Investigators said no one on the ground was injured.
Autopsies have yet to be scheduled for the two men.
Investigators have not determined what caused the plane to fall from the sky — if an engine failed, the craft stalled out or something else caused the failure, Foster said.
Thomas said crews were called to the scene by workers in the airport tower at 3:48 p.m. There is a fire station at the airport, and crews arrived at the plane within minutes, finding it fully engulfed in flames.
Thomas said the crash area is about 300 yards west of the airport runway and the surrounding grass fire was started when fuel from the plane spilled and was ignited.
The Federal Aviation Administration identified the airplane as a twin-engine Cessna that experienced trouble shortly after departing from the Hammond Northshore Regional Airport and crashed while attempting to return to the field.
FAA investigators have been called to the scene, and the National Transportation Safety Board has been notified, said Lynn Lunsford, a public affairs manager for the federal agency.
NTSB investigators will be on the scene Thursday morning, spokesperson Terry Williams said.
At the airport, multiple fire department crews arrived to extinguish the fire on the plane and the surrounding grass fire.
Thomas said the last crash at the airport happened about eight to 10 years ago.
Lacy Landrum, director of administration for Hammond, said it is unlikely the men will be identified before Thursday.
The engine manufacturer will be at the airport Thursday, and more details should be available once inspectors are able to look at the scene, Landrum said.
In addition to the Hammond Fire Department, the Hammond Police Department and members of the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office also responded to the crash, and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry cleared trees to help contain the fire.