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Four killed in New Mexico medical transport flight crash

By Joseph J. Kolb

ALBUQUERQUE N.M. (Reuters) - A small medical transport plane bound for Arizona crashed in New Mexico outside of Las Cruces late on Wednesday, killing a patient and three crew members aboard, a state police official said on Thursday.

The plane, en route to Phoenix, crashed shortly after take-off from Las Cruces Airport, according to Lieutenant Emmanuel Gutierrez.

"When officers arrived on scene, the twin engine plane was fully engulfed in flames about a mile south of Interstate 10," Gutierrez said in a statement.

The cause of the crash is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration. The weather at the time of take-off was neither windy nor or rainy, according to state police.

The victims aboard the flight, which was contracted by Elite Medical Transport through Amigos Aviation, have been identified as 29-year-old pilot Freddy Martinez, 27-year-old flight paramedic Tauren Summer, 35-year-old flight nurse Monica Chavez, and a 59-year-old patient, Fredrick Green.

Elite Medical Transport is based out of nearby El Paso, Texas. Company President Robert Campion said the plane was a Cessna 421 operated by Amigos Aviation of Harlingen, Texas.

Officials at Amigo Aviation could not immediately be reached for comment.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Sandra Maler)