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FAMU Law Student, Son, and Three Others Mourned After Florida Plane Crash

First year law student Janise Joseph-Woodard was supposed to
be sitting in her criminal law class. Instead, there was an empty seat when her
class met Tuesday night. Florida A&M
University professors had to
console her classmates after a small plane plowed into her home, killing
Joseph-Woodard, 24, her 6-month-old son and three others.

“Janise balanced law school, a family and a healthy
marriage. And she did it well,” classmate Nikeisha Ford said of the mother
of two.

The twin-engine Cessna crashed into a suburban Orlando
subdivision Tuesday morning, spilling aviation fuel that ignited and gutted the
two homes it struck.

The victims included two aboard the plane: 54-year-old Dr.
Bruce Kennedy, a Daytona Beach
plastic surgeon and husband of International Speedway Corp. President Lesa
France Kennedy, and NASCAR Aviation pilot Michael Klemm, 56.

Also killed was a 4-year-old girl, Gabriela Dechat, who
lived in a home beside Joseph-Woodard. Her parents, Milagros Dechat, 33, and
Peter Dechat, 36, were seriously injured.

A 10-year-old boy who was also in that home was transported
to Cincinnati Burn
Center with burns over 80 percent to 90 percent
of his body, authorities said. His name has not been released.

The National Transportation Safety Board will focus its
investigation on “man, machine and the environment,” NTSB vice
chairman Robert Sumwalt said.

“We’ll be reviewing the aircraft maintenance records
and any other records associated with this airplane,” he said.

The investigation will also focus on any services the plane
may have received before or during the flight, including fueling and

The plane was traveling from Daytona
Beach to Lakeland
Tuesday when the pilot declared there was smoke in the cockpit. It was not
clear who was flying the plane; NASCAR said it was Kennedy, but investigators
said earlier it was Klemm.

The pilot was directed to land at the Sanford
Airport but air traffic control
lost radar contact. Authorities permitted it to land at any runway, Sumwalt

At the crash site, rescue crews arrived to a “heavy,
dark column of smoke” worsened by the airplane fuel. “The plane’s in
numerous pieces throughout the five or six homes’ backyard,” said Matt
Minnetto, an investigator with the Sanford Fire Department.

Eric Domnitz, who lives down the street, hurried with a fire
extinguisher when he heard a woman scream. He said he discovered a horrific

“It’s in my head. The woman was just melting. It looked
like her skin was just melting off,” he said. “The guy, he was
melting. He looked like wax.”

The plane was registered to Competitor Liaison Bureau Inc.
of Daytona Beach. Online records
from the Department of State Division of Corporations show the company is
registered under the name of William C. France, the NASCAR chairman who died
last month at age 74 at his Daytona Beach
“Our deepest sympathies and prayers are with all of
those who were involved in this tragic accident and their families,”
NASCAR said in a statement.

Lesa France Kennedy, whose husband died in the plane crash,
is France’s
daughter. International Speedway Corp., of which she is president, owns or
operates 13 of the nation’s major motorsports facilities.

Gov. Charlie Crist said Bruce Kennedy was a great friend.
“When I went to the Homestead
race, he was kind enough to take me around to meet the drivers. He was gracious
beyond words,” Crist told The Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Associated Press writers Sarah Larimer, Lisa Orkin Emmanuel,
Adrian Sainz, Rasha Madkour and Kelli Kennedy in Miami and Ron Word in Daytona
Beach contributed to this report.

– Associated Press

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