LAS CRUCES, N.M. — An air ambulance carrying a cancer patient to Phoenix crashed shortly after taking off from a southern New Mexico airport, killing all four people aboard, authorities said Thursday.
The twin-engine aircraft had just left the Las Cruces International Airport on Wednesday evening and was reported by witnesses to be flying low when it hit a mesquite tree, flipped, and burst into flames, according to New Mexico State Police Lieutenant James Frietze.
The crew members killed were identified as pilot Freddy Martinez, 29; flight paramedic Tauren Summers, 27; and flight nurse Monica Chavez, 35. The patient was identified as Fredrick Green, 59.
Frietze said there were not any weather issues in the area at the time, and several witnesses reported the plane was flying low before it crashed on federal land near the airport.
Green’s brother, Leslie, said that his brother was living in the Phoenix area when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and that he was undergoing radiation treatment in Las Cruces.
His condition deteriorated recently, and doctors decided he should return to St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, where he was originally treated.
Green said they had a choice Wednesday to put his brother on a plane immediately or wait four hours. ‘‘I kind of wish we had waited,’’ he said. ‘‘But you can’t change what happened.’’