(WFFF) — A former NFL star was among two people killed after a small plane crashed at an Upstate New York airport over the weekend, according to a report.
The crash happened shortly after 4 p.m. Sunday at the end of a runway at the Lake Placid Airport.
A spokesperson for the National Transportation Safety Board told Lake Placid News the plane made a “hard roll to the left” after taking off on Sunday, but the investigation remains ongoing.
The outlet also reported that the victims have been identified as Richard McSpadden, the senior vice president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), and Russ Francis, a former NFL tight end. Francis had recently purchased the airport’s Lake Placid Airways scenic tour business.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the Cessna plane crashed “under unknown circumstances short of the runway,” killing the pilot and passenger. New York State Police responded, along with forest rangers from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and Lake Placid emergency crews.
“The airplane attempted to return to the airport but failed to make it to the runway,” the AOPA said in a Facebook post Sunday, explaining the flight “experienced an emergency after takeoff.”
“We are deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic loss of former New England Patriots tight end Russ Francis,” the Patriots said on Twitter Monday morning. “Our condolences are extended to Francis’ family and friends.”
Francis’ brother, Ed, also confirmed the news on his personal Facebook account.
“I’m not sure there’s anybody bigger during that decade or more that he played football, and that was when guys like myself, Jesse Sapolu, Mark Tuinei, we were all trying to get to the National Football League or when we started our careers,” Rich Miano told KHON on Sunday. “Monday Night Football, I mean, ‘All world,’ Howard Cosell, it didn’t get any bigger than Russ Francis.
Francis was selected in the first round of the 1975 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots and went on to become a Super Bowl champion, two-time All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler, Nexstar’s KHON reports. Francis also played for the San Francisco 49ers.
After his playing days were over, Francis also spent time as a local and national sportscaster and became a member of the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame.
Nexstar’s WFFF has reached out to New York State Police with additional questions but did not immediately receive a response.