COLLEGEDALE, Tenn. (AP) -- A small plane carrying Seventh-day Adventist Church officials crashed Thursday soon after taking off from an airport in a rural, mountainous area, killing all but one of the six people on board.
The only survivor, co-pilot Jim Huff, walked away from the crash site and was taken to a Chattanooga hospital, Sheriff John Cupp said. No information on his condition was immediately available.
The twin-engine Cessna 421 crashed, caught fire and broke apart in a thicket of trees about 1 1/2 miles north of the Collegedale Municipal Airport. Airport manager Frank Zarski said the plane crashed because of engine failure.
The pilot, John Laswell, and four passengers were killed. To recover the bodies, officials planned to cut some trees and build a bridge over a small creek near the crash site, Cupp said.
The group had been meeting at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, about 15 miles northeast of Chattanooga, and was traveling to Knoxville for meetings with Seventh-day Adventist pastors and other conference presidents.
The plane was registered to the Georgia-Cumberland Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
Church officials said the passengers killed were Dave Cress, the conference's president; Jim Frost, its executive secretary; Jamie Arnall, director of communication; and Clay Farwell, assistant to the conference president.
``We would encourage all people of faith to join us in praying that the families and co-workers of the victims will find comfort,'' said Pastor Don Schneider, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America.