RUIDOSO, N.M. - A pilot and his teenage son were killed in a plane crash near Ruidoso on Tuesday night, officials said.
The pilot was identified as 39-year-old Justin King, according to a New Mexico State Police news release. The passenger was identified as his son, 13-year-old Hayden King.
Debi Lee, Ruidoso village manager, knew Justin King very well.
"It’s heartbreaking -- it’s truly heartbreaking," Lee said. "He was just such such a tremendous person in the community."
At the time of his death, Justin King was president of the Capital Municipal School Board of Trustees. His son, Hayden, was a well-known athlete. Justin's wife is currently a teacher with Capitan.
The crash occurred shortly after 10:15 p.m. about a mile south of the Sierra Blanca Regional Airport, Lee said. One of Justin’s cousins works at the airport. Another one of his cousins, a fireman, was on the scene of the crash last night.
“I think we all wanted to just disbelieve, you know,” Lee said. She had last seen the Kings in March.
Officers discovered that the Beechcraft King Air crashed shortly after the plane had taken off.
Lee said the weather last night was calm, and nothing unusual for a June night.
Both the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have been on scene investigating the cause of the crash, which is not known at this time.
In the meantime, a tight-knit community of less than ten thousand people is in mourning.
“When you lose a friend and somebody that you’ve known in the community with such a presence, it’s tough,” Lee said. “It’s not easy to deal with.”