'Once in a lifetime' Australian golf trip for 4 Americans ends in fatal plane crash

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'Once in a lifetime' Australian golf trip for 4 Americans ends in fatal plane crash

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'Once in a lifetime' Australian golf trip for 4 Americans ends in fatal plane crash

A ‘once in a lifetime’ golf outing turned horribly tragic for four American tourists and an Australian pilot Tuesday when their small plane crashed into a shopping mall shortly after takeoff in the Australian city of Melbourne.

The pilot reported a “catastrophic engine failure” moments before the crash, police said.

The U.S. Embassy in Australia confirmed that four Americans were killed.

Associated Press

Associated Press

“The U.S. Embassy in Canberra and U.S. Consulate in Melbourne are working closely with local authorities. We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance to the families of the victims,” an embassy statement said, according to USA TODAY.

Greg Reynolds De Haven and Russell Munsch, both from Texas, were identified as victims by their families on social media.

Denelle Wicht, De Haven’s sister, posted on Facebook: “Dear friends and family, my handsome athletic big brother was killed today in a plane accident while on his ‘once in a lifetime’ trip to Australia.” She said her brother, who was born in 1946, was flying to an island on a charter flight with two friends to play golf.

Max Quartermain, the owner of the charter company Corporate and Leisure Travel, was the pilot, the Associated Press reported.

The twin-engine Beechcraft Super King Air had taken off from Melbourne’s second-biggest airport in the suburb of Essendon for a golfing trip to King Island, 160 miles southward in Tasmania, officials told USA TODAY.

It crashed into the Direct Factory Outlet mall that adjoins the airport about 45 minutes before the shopping center was supposed to open, Police Minister Lisa Neville said.

Michael Howard, 29, told the ABC he saw a blue flash go past the shopping center’s billboard before erupting into a “huge fireball.”

“(I thought) what the hell? That doesn’t happen every day. It was crazy, like something from a movie,” he said.

Investigations are taking place into the circumstances surrounding the crash.

USA TODAY

USA TODAY

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