The U.S. Air Force Academy is mourning the loss of one of its own who will never get to serve his country as he had planned to do.
Academy Cadet Nick Duran died on Thursday in a single-engine plane crash south of Fort Worth, Texas, while he was off duty, the Washington Examiner reported. He was just 20 years old.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has reportedly confirmed that Duran and one other person were killed in the crash, which is still being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
According to the Examiner, the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office determined that Duran had died of blunt force injuries from the crash.
“He was our brother”
U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard Clark remembered the 20-year-old as more than just a cadet.
“He was our brother — a friend, teammate, and classmate — and will always be a part of USAFA,” Clark said, according to Stripes. “While words cannot lessen the loss felt by his family, we want to send our heartfelt condolences to Nick’s family and friends — you are in our thoughts and prayers.”
In a tweet from the institution, Clark wrote: “The impact of losing Nick has been felt throughout our Academy.”
From the Supt, Lt. Gen. Clark: “On June 24, we lost one of our own. C2C Nick Duran died as a result of a single-engine plane crash while he was home in Texas on leave. The impact of losing Nick has been felt throughout our Academy.” pic.twitter.com/idTJgUoAN6
— U.S. Air Force Academy (@AF_Academy) June 26, 2021
Plane found near airport
According to a local CBS affiliate, the FAA said the wreckage of the single-engine Grumman/American Aviation AA-1A was found Thursday with two people aboard near Cleburne after it had been declared missing.
The plane crashed just west of the Cleburne Regional Airport, where it was likely heading.
Experts say most plane crashes are caused by either pilot error, mechanical failure, or bad weather conditions during the flight. It was not clear which of the two who were killed was piloting the plane or whether mechanical failure or weather played a part in the crash.
Smaller aircraft have many more accidents than commercial planes, with 1,316 accidents and 346 deaths in 2017, the last year data was available.