The Cochran County Sheriff's Office has confirmed that the pilot of the Piper Malibu was 61-year-old Thomas (Tommy) Joseph Taylor of Abilene. Taylor and two passengers, 35-year-old Matthew Axtell of Basalt, Colorado, and 51-year-old David Bradley Patton, also of Colorado, were killed when Taylor's 1985 Piper Malibu single-engine plane crashed in a field near Morton, Texas, while flying from Aspen, Colorado to Brenham, Texas.
Business records indicate Taylor owned Thomas J. Taylor and Associates, an energy company based in Abilene.
Federal Aviation Administration records indicate Taylor's private pilot's certificate was issued in April 2008.
In his 20 years with the Cochran County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Raymond Weber said this is the fourth plane crash he’s assisted with.
“It didn’t look very good,” he said. “I couldn’t tell you what caused it. There was a storm in the area when it happened so a reasonable thought would be it was probably weather related."
The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating the crash.
Three people are dead Wednesday in the crash of a plane registered to an Abilene-based company.
The Texas Department of Public Safety says the single-engine Piper Malibu was flying from Aspen, Colorado to Brenham, Texas, when it crashed near the town of Morton in Cochran County. Morton is about 50 miles west of Lubbock, near the Texas/New Mexico border. FAA records show the airplane is owned by Flying Lazy T, LLC, which has offices at 3300 S. 14th St.
According to the flight-tracking website FlightAware, the aircraft took off from Aspen at 1:26 p.m. Mountain Time, and was flying non-stop to Brenham in southeast Texas, due to arrive there around 5:45 p.m. Central Time.
A map of the plane's route shows the aircraft diverted to the south as it passed west of Amarillo. The National Weather Service in Lubbock says there were severe thunderstorms in the region at the time the plane crashed.
We will provide updates on details on the crash and the identities of the victims when as soon as we get them.
Officials lost contact with the plane sometime around 4:50 pm. Although no official cause for the crash has been determined there was bad weather at the time in Cochran County.
“There was a severe storm at the time of that aircraft mishap,” said meteorologist Matt Ziebell with the Lubbock office of National Weather Service. “It could have produced any conditions of wind or turbulence.”
It was a single-engine plane headed from Aspen Colorado to Brenham, Texas.
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