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Two planes took off before fatal Peter O. Knight crash

The Cessna 340 went down at about 11:30 a.m. Friday and was engulfed by flames when rescuers arrived on scene. [SKIP O'ROURKE | Times]
Published Mar. 20, 2016

TAMPA — Another plane took off at the same time as the twin-engine Cessna that crashed and burned, killing two people at Peter O. Knight Airport, officials confirmed Saturday.

The Cessna 340 went down at about 11:30 a.m. Friday and was engulfed by flames when rescuers arrived. Eyewitnesses said they saw another plane, but National Transportation Safety Board investigators were still determining the crash's cause on Saturday.

"There's evidence that there are two airplanes taking off approximately at the same time," said NTSB investigator Paul Cox during a news conference at the airport. "However, whether the accident occurred coincidental, or as a cause of, I don't know yet and that's one of the reason that we're here . . . you can't just jump to a conclusion right at the beginning."

Cox said his team has identified the other pilot was and would eventually interview him or her. Cox also said surveillance video from the airport captured the crash, but added his office would not immediately release it.

Tampa police said Saturday the Medical Examiner's Office would have to positively identify the victims before their names were released.

The plane that crashed was headed to Pensacola. Peter O. Knight reopened Saturday just before 8 p.m.

Cox said his investigation was held up due the possibility of lightning Saturday afternoon, but once the weather cleared he would analyze the crash scene.

After his crew photographs, measures and examines the remaining charred parts, the plane will be stored at a facility in Jacksonville, Cox said. The NTSB will release a preliminary report in the next 10 days.

Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3400. Follow @sara_dinatale.

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