BEDFORD, Mass. (WHDH) -
Authorities said all seven people aboard a private plane were killed when it crashed at Hanscom Field and erupted into fire.
An FAA spokesperson said that a Gulfstream IV corporate jet belonging to Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz apparently ran off Runway 11 at the base at around 9:40 p.m. Saturday. The aircraft was departing to Atlantic City in New Jersey when it caught fire.
The incident occurred just days after reaching a deal that many hoped would end months of infighting at the newspaper and help restore it to its former glory.
Katz was returning to New Jersey from a gathering at the home of Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. He and others attended a kickoff celebration for the Concord River Institute, which is a school that aims to improve education around the country.
"Our hearts and prayers go out to the seven people who lost their lives in this horrible tragedy, and to their families and loved ones," said Doris' son Michael Goodwin.
Also killed was a next-door neighbor of Katz's, Anne Leeds, a 74-year-old retired preschool teacher he had invited to accompany him.
James P. Leeds Sr., town commissioner of Longport, New Jersey, said he received a text message from his wife Anne just four minutes before the crash saying they were about to take off, he said.
Other victims identified were Susan Asbell and Marcella Dalsey. The names of the three crew members have not been released. Investigators said it was too soon to discuss the cause of the crash and will not be making any assumptions.
Authorities from the National Transportation Safety board have not said what they think caused the crash, but that they are investigating.
"We are not going to speculate," said NTSB Spokesperson Luke Schiada. "We are not going to drew any conclusions or fact finding stages of the investigation."
Witnesses said they saw a fireball and felt the blast of the explosion. NTSB investigator Luke Schiada also said a witness reported the plane never left the ground.
The airport remains closed, according to Massport.
The town of Bedford released a statement Sunday saying that the town's water supply was not affected by the crash, but that authorities are still monitoring the situation.
The State Police are assisting with the crash investigation, along with Massport, the FBI and Bedford Police, Fire and EMS.
The plane was apparently supposed to leave at 6:00 p.m. but was delayed. Authorities are checking the plane's maintenance records to see when it was last checked and are looking for a black box.