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Richard McSpadden and Former NFL TE Russ Francis Killed in Plane Crash

Cessna plane

Former New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers tight end Russ Francis was one of two people killed in a Cessna plane crash at Lake Placid Airport in New York on October 1, 2023. The other deceased victim was identified as Richard McSpadden, an executive at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA).

Reports indicate that the Cessna 177RG plane encountered an unspecified emergency moments after taking off at 4:00 p.m. local time. Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said Francis and McSpadden communicated a problem with the plane at approximately 1,000 feet and were attempting to land when it went down in a wooded area.

“The engine apparently lost power,” said NTSB investigator Todd Gunther at a briefing two days after the crash. Officials have recovered maintenance records for the plane, which may help determine what caused the plane to lose power.

Lake Placid Airport remained closed days after the crash as authorities continued their investigation.

What Caused the Plane Crash That Killed Russ Francis and Richard McSpadden?

Small plane crash investigations take anywhere from 12-24 months to complete. Once the investigation is complete, NTSB will write a final report on the crash, which will include the cause or causes of the crash that killed Russ Francis and Richard McSpadden. It may also include safety recommendations to avoid similar incidents in the future.

“When a sudden loss of power is suspected, there are a number of possible causes including catastrophic mechanical failure or problems with fuel including contamination, fuel availability, or delivery to the engine,” says plane crash lawyer Timothy A. Loranger. “Investigators will work to determine what failed and why. The Francis and McSpadden families deserve answers.”

Lake Placid Plane Crash Victims Identified as NFL Tight End Russ Francis and Executive of AOPA Air Safety Institute Richard McSpadden.

Russ Francis, 70, was a former tight end for the San Francisco 49ers and the New England Patriots. He was also a veteran pilot and president of Lake Placid Airways, a company that runs charter and scenic flights.

Both the San Francisco 49ers and the New England Patriots expressed their condolences to Russ Francis' family in statements. Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, remembered Francis as a dynamic player with an even bigger personality off the field. He described him as a "fan favorite" who lived life to the fullest.

Francis won Super Bowl XIX in 1982 with the San Francisco 49ers when Joe Montana was the team’s quarterback. In his 13 seasons, Francis grabbed 393 receptions for 5,262 yards and 40 touchdowns. He was All-Pro and made the Pro Bowl multiple times early in his playing career.

Richard McSpadden, 63, was the executive director of the AOPA Air Safety Institute. He managed a team of certified flight instructors and content creators developing and distributing aviation safety material with the goal of improving general aviation safety across the industry. McSpadden also served as a commander of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. The Thunderbirds paid tribute on social media, recognizing his significant impact and lasting legacy.

Wisner Baum Plane Crash Lawyers

Wisner Baum has been representing people harmed in preventable small plane crashes for over 35 years. Our team has litigated dozens of cases for clients after Cessna crashes. We work with some of the most skilled investigators in the country who know how to gather evidence and pinpoint the causes or contributing factors in plane crashes. From maintenance issues to manufacturing defects, or firm has a long track record of success in obtaining justice and maximum compensation for crash victims.

Across all areas of practice, Wisner Baum has won more than $4 billion in verdicts and settlements. If you would like more information about your legal rights after a plane crash, please contact us or give us a call at (855) 948-5098. Our legal team offers free and confidential case evaluations.


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