Fiery crash of small plane along Nashville highway kills Canadian parents and their 3 children

A small plane crashed into the shoulder of Nashville’s Interstate 40 and burst into flames Monday night, killing a Canadian family of five, police said.

Two adults and three children were on the plane, National Transportation Safety Board air safety investigator Aaron McCarter said Tuesday.

The victims were identified as pilot Victor Dotsenko, 43, his wife, Rimma Dotsenko, 39, and their three children, David, 12; Adam, 10; and Emma, 7, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department said in a statement Wednesday.

The plane was approved for an emergency landing at John C. Tune Airport after reporting engine and power failure around 7:40 p.m., Metro Nashville Police Department spokesperson Don Aaron said. But the pilot soon told air traffic control that they wouldn’t make it to the tarmac.

Audio from the website captured the communication between the pilot and the air traffic controller before the fatal crash.

“Do you still have John Tune Airport in sight?” the air traffic controller asked.

“My engine shut off. I’m at sixteen hundred [feet]. I’m going to be landing … I don’t know where,” the pilot responded.

Witnesses reported the plane appeared to be “obviously in distress as it was coming over the interstate” before it crashed into a grassy area behind a Costco alongside I-40 east, Aaron said.

“We are fortunate the aircraft did not hit any buildings as it went down,” Aaron said.

The aircraft exploded into flames upon impact, Nashville Fire Department spokesperson Kendra Loney said.

“That impact was catastrophic and did not leave any survivors,” Loney said.

The family was from King Township, Ontario, just north of Toronto, Mayor Steve Pellegrini said Wednesday. The loss for the tight-knit community is “heartbreaking and devastating,” he added.

“On behalf of King Township, I extend our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the Dotsenko family from our community who tragically lost their lives in the small plane crash in Nashville, Tennessee,” Pellegrini said in a statement Monday.

The NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the crash of the single-engine plane, the FAA said. The plane was a Piper PA-32, according to the NTSB.

The plane originated in Ontario, Canada, and made stops in Erie, Pennsylvania, and Mount Sterling, Kentucky, “more than likely to pick up gas,” said McCarter, the NTSB investigator. The plane was headed to John Tune Airport in Nashville on Monday night but for unknown reasons passed over the airport at 2,500 feet, he said.

The plane then made a U-turn, reported a complete loss of engine power and crashed into the side of the highway, he said.

The crash prompted the temporary closure of I-40 east at mile marker 202, Tennessee Department of Transportation Region 3 spokeswoman Rebekah Hammonds said on X.

Witness video shows an aircraft engulfed in flames and smoke, and images shared by police capture the aircraft’s mangled frame surrounded by first responders on a grassy roadside.

Live traffic cameras also showed a large emergency vehicle response blocking all eastbound travel lanes near the crash site and a string of gridlocked traffic leading up to the shut-down stretch of I-40 east.

CNN’s Jamiel Lynch, Pete Muntean, Amanda Jackson and Caroll Alvarado contributed to this report.

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