Former New England Patriots star and Super Bowl winner Russ Francis died in a small plane crash in Lake Placid, New York, Sunday.
The former tight end was one of two people who died in the crash at Lake Placid Airport Sunday afternoon, Lake Placid police and officials from the town of North Elba told NBC affiliate WPTZ. Also on board was Richard McSpadden, an executive at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association which, in a statement, noted that he once served as a commander of the elite U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.
The plane was taking off and had an unspecified emergency, according to the association, which said in a statement that it “attempted to return to the airport but failed to make the runway.”
A preliminary incident report from the Federal Aviation Administration noted the plane, a Cessna 177RG, was substantially damaged in the crash short of the runway. The cause of the crash wasn’t immediately available.
The Patriots extended their condolences to the family of Francis, who won Super Bowl XIX with Joe Montana’s San Francisco 49ers, where he played for six years, bookended by stints on the Patriots.
“He was a dynamic player on the field who had an even bigger personality off it. He knew no boundaries, pushed the limits and lived his life to the fullest,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in a statement about the “fan favorite” player.
The Thunderbirds paid tribute to McSpadden in a Facebook post, writing, “His impact is felt across the world and his legacy will be lasting!”