A prominent Florida attorney and his daughters were killed in a heartbreaking plane crash on Christmas Eve after crashing his small plane moments after take-off, an accident that authorities are tentatively blaming on the thick morning fog that had descended on the runway.
John Shannon, 70, died on impact alongside his daughters, 26-year-old Victoria Shannon Worthington and 24-year-old Olivia Shannon, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Also aboard the Cessna 340 were Victoriaâ€™s husband, 27-year-old Peter Worthington Jr., and family friend Krista Clayton, 32.
â€śIt breaks our heart,â€ť Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said of the accident. He described John Shannon as a personal friend.
The Shannon family planned to travel from Polk County to Key West, a 45-minute flight, so they could spend Christmas Eve in a sunnier environment. John Shannon was a well-known lawyer in Lakeland who once ran unsuccessfully for the House of Representatives; Victoria Shannon Worthington was a teacher in Baltimore; and Olivia Shannon was a student at Southeastern University in Lakeland.
Authorities are unclear what caused the crash. One airport employee who witnessed and filmed part of the accident was in shock â€śthat they were taking off in this fog.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m just stunned, I think like everybody else,â€ť said Ben Hardin, a close friend of the Shannon family. â€śJohn was as fine and caring of a person as you would ever meet.â€ť
Hardin once flew with Shannon to Tallahassee and recalled that he was extremely cautious in the cockpit, going so far as to ask Hardin not to talk during take-off. Shannon got his private pilotâ€™s certificate in 2010 and was remembered by friends as an accomplished pilot.
The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash, while the Polk County Sheriffâ€™s Office will investigate the deaths.