Fatal Plane Crash Claims 4 Lives Near North Platte, Neb.

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Authorities say a twin-engine plane crash Friday afternoon near North Platte, Nebraska, killed four people, including a man from York, Nebraska.

According to the Nebraska State Patrol, the fatalities have been identified as Mark Bottorff, 54, Lancaster, Kan., Ken Babcock, 71, Hiawatha, Kan., Jason Drane, 39, St. Joseph, Mo., and Chris Nelsen, 53, York, Neb.

Law enforcement officials are restricting access to the accident scene, which is on private property just south of South Kiewitt Road in rural Maxwell in Lincoln County.

The plane, which authorities say was piloted by Bottorff, took off from North Platte Regional Airport at 3:46 p.m. Friday, on its way to York Municipal Airport, about 170 miles to the east.

A spokesperson for Bottorff's family says the three others on board were with agriculture equipment companies and were doing business with Bottorff Construction of Atchison, Kansas, which owned the plane.

Authorities say they lost contact with the plane approximately seven minutes after takeoff. A search for the plane began after it didn't arrive in York.

"The aircraft took off, made contact with radar approach control, and was climbing to 9,000 feet. Somewhere around 5,000 feet, radio and radar contact was lost," said National Transportation Safety Board air safety investigator Tom Latson.

Latson said local search and rescue found the wreckage three hours later.

"The aircraft impacted at what appears to be a relatively high speed, at a moderate angle of impact. There are impact scars, and the debris distribution from the initial impact of airplane parts more than 200 feet away, roughly to the northeast," Latson said, noting that the impact created a "crater."

According to the FAA Registry, the plane's manufacturer is Raytheon Aircraft Company. The Fixed Wing Multi-Engine plane was built in 2000. It is registered to Bottorff Construction, Inc.

Representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), as well as those from the manufacturers of the aircraft and of the aircraft engine were also on scene Saturday. Latson and another National Transportation Safety Board investigator says they will be returning to the accident scene on Sunday.

Latson says he will be removing the wreckage to a secure location just outside of Denver, Colorado, where he will continue the investigation. He says it will be at least one week before he releases any preliminary findings, and that a complete report could take between six to nine months.