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Cockpit recording shows confusion, engine trouble before crash of St. Petersburg-bound plane

National Transportation Safety Board investigators and others inspect a hangar at Addison Airport in Addison, Texas, on Monday, the day after a twin-engine plane crashed into the building killing all ten people on board. [Shaban Athuman/The Dallas Morning News via AP]
Published Jul. 2

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A cockpit recording from a St. Petersburg-bound plane that crashed in Texas on Sunday captured voices "consistent with confusion" and signaled there was a problem with the left engine seconds before it ended suddenly, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

All 10 people aboard the private twin-engine plane died when it crashed into a hangar at Addison Airport near Dallas.

Twelve seconds before the flight recording ends, there was confusion inside the plane, indications of a problem with the left engine, then three alerts about the aircraft banking, said safety board vice chairman Bruce Landsberg at a Tuesday news conference in Texas.

A fire destroyed most of the fuselage, however, which could hamper the inquiry. Investigators said they will need to rely heavily on surveillance video to figure out what went wrong. The agency said it will determine a preliminary cause of the crash within two weeks, but it will take more than a year to finish the full crash investigation.

READ MORE: Texas family among dead in crash of plane bound for St. Petersburg

In other developments Tuesday, three more people who died in the crash were identified. The names of all 10 victims have now been made public.

The last to be publicly named was the pilot, Howard Cassady, 71, according to the office of Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.

Cassady and pilot Matthew Palmer, 28, comprised the plane's crew.

Earlier in the day, John and Mary Titus were named as crash victims, according to WFAA-TV in Dallas. Their place of residence was not disclosed, but Mary Titus was the mixed-league director for Tennis Competitors of Dallas, the television station reported. The league sent out an email to its members informing them of the deaths of the couple.

"We are shattered by this loss as I know many of you who knew the involved families are as well," the email said, according to WFAA-TV.

All 10 died when the twin-engine Beechcraft BE-350 King Air crashed shortly after takeoff Sunday. The plane was scheduled to fly to Albert Whitted Airport in downtown St. Petersburg. But after taking off from Addison Municipal Airport, the aircraft crashed into an unoccupied hangar at 10:11 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. There were no survivors.

The other victims were identified as high school students Dylan Maritato, 13, and sister Alice, 15; their mother Ornella Ellard, 45, and stepfather Brian Ellard, 52; Steve Thelen, 58, and wife Gina, according to news reports.

The victims with the closest ties to the St. Petersburg area appear to be the Ellards. Public records indicate the Ellard family owns a home on the 4900 block of Gulf Boulevard in St. Pete Beach. Neighbors told WTSP-Ch. 10 the Ellards owned a yacht and loved to visit the St. Petersburg area on holidays, spending their time on the water.

Ornella Ellard was an interior designer and Brian Ellard owned an art gallery and Mille Lire, an upscale Italian restaurant in the Dallas area, according to the Dallas Morning News. The restaurant released a statement on Instagram:

"Mille Lire was built around the tradition of our family, and as you can imagine, this sudden loss has affected us all."

Alice and Dylan Maritato attended John Paul II High School in Plano. Bishop Edward J. Burns of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas released a statement:

"As a community, we are saddened at the tragic loss of all who perished in the crash."

The group of passengers appear to have been linked as members of the Bent Tree Country Club, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Times reporters Ben Leonard and Kavitha Surana contributed to this report. Contact Tony Marrero at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.

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