ATLANTA (FOX 5 Atlanta) - All four people on board a small jet plane which crashed Thursday afternoon in a football field near the Fulton County Airport are dead.
According to the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department, the plane went down at around 12:10 p.m. in a football field at English Park. The park is located near the intersection of Fulton Industrial Boulevard and Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway.
The Federal Aviation Administration database shows the plane is a Cessna Citation V jet which is registered to Chen Aviation based in Memphis, Tennessee. Officials in Tennessee also said the jet belongs to well-known Memphis businessman and aviator Wei Chen. He was the first Chinese citizen to complete an around the world flight in 70 days for charity.
As of late Thursday night, the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office had not released the names of the four victims, but the University of Memphis, where Chen graduated, put out the following statement Thursday evening.
“The University of Memphis is deeply saddened by the tragic death of Wei Chen, a University of Memphis alum and supporter who served on several University boards including the Alumni Association National Executive Board of Directors. This is a tremendous loss not only for the UofM but the entire City of Memphis. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this solemn time.”
Eyewitnesses are praising the pilot for avoiding more death and destruction. The destruction of the private jet was captured by eyewitness video.
"This plane went down out of nowhere you all. I don't think they made it you all," is heard on the video.
Witnesses said it appeared the pilot tried to maneuver the aircraft even as it was going down.
"I could tell whoever was driving the plane had some type of control of it," said Reginald Dumas. "When I saw it going down, I just prayed. So, I'm hurt. I'm just shook up, but I know whoever that was in heaven right now. For real, for real. 'Cause I know I prayed for them before it went down."
The Cessna jet capable of carrying eight to 10 people went down a few hundred feet from several homes including LeaLea Hill's house.
"I just saw something coming down until I saw it was a plane and it went boom and then pieces was just flying everywhere," said Hill.
The plane after taking off from nearby Charlie Brown Airport according to the Atlanta Fire Department.
"The aircraft is basically completely destroyed. It's spread out about a hundred yards and it looks like it slid through the field so there's not a whole of pieces left other than the tail section," said Sgt. Cortez Stafford with the Atlanta Fire Department.
Officials say four people were killed on the business jet which fell out of the sky while bound for Memphis.
Several people whose homes border English Park said it’s fortunate Thursday was a rainy, cloudy day and that children were not where they usually are, the field where the plane crashed.
They were also thankful the pilot avoided their homes.
"It could have been a whole lot worse and my house would have been the first house bitten by it. He put it right down there in that one spot and all these houses around here. It could have been a whole lot worse," said Clarence Thompson.
His home is about 100 yards from the crash site.
The crash victims are believed to be from the Memphis area.
"Tonight when I go to bed I'm gonna say a prayer for the families and my condolences you know," said Thompson.
The crash happened about a mile and a half away from the Fulton County Airport.
The NTSB arrived on scene around 9:45 Thursday night to take over the investigation.