TUSCALOOSA, ALA – The Oxford, Miss., community is in shock and mourning after an airplane crash near Tuscaloosa, Ala., killed six members of its medical community Sunday morning.
Authorities in Tuscaloosa and Northport reported that air traffic controllers received a distress call from a private airplane around 11:10. Rescue crews were prepared to assist at the runway at Tuscaloosa Regional Airport but the airplane never showed.
Inside the airplane were Oxford dentist Dr. Jason Farese, presumed to be the pilot, and his wife Dr. Lea Farese, also a dentist. The couple owned Farese Family Dental in Oxford. Also on board the plane were Dr. Michael Perry, an Oxford periodontist; his wife Kimberly, a nurse; Dr. Austin Poole, a Clarksdale dentist; and his wife Angie.
The doctors were traveling to Oxford from Kissimmee, Fla., where they had attended a medical conference. The airplane departed at 9:55 a.m. Sunday morning.
Aviation records indicate the airplane was a twin-piston Piper Navajo registered to Jason P. Farese with the Farese Family Dental clinic listed as the address.
The crash occurred about 10 minutes after the distress call reporting engine problems. The airplane went down in a wooded area behind the farmers market in Northport, just east of Tuscaloosa Regional Airport. Tuscaloosa authorities reported that the airplane was not intact and confirmed the six deaths.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials arrived at the scene at around 3:25 Sunday afternoon. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is also responding to the crash and investigators were en route to Tuscaloosa.
The deceased couples leave behind 11 children between them. The Fareses and Perrys had three children each and the Pooles had five children.
Sunday’s airplane crash ranks as one of the worst aviation accidents in the state’s history.