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Human Interest

Family of 4 Killed in Plane Crash: ‘It’s So Tragic to Lose Such an Active and Vibrant Family,’ Says Friend

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Friends of the family of four that died in a plane crash on Saturday are at a loss for words.

The small private plane, which took off from from Kissimmee, Florida, crashed around 2:30 p.m. near Hayden, Alabama, killing Joseph Crenshaw, 45, his wife Jennifer, 43, their son Jacob, 16, and daughter Jillian, 14. The family was returning to their home in Jackson, Tennessee, after a spring break trip to Disney World.

“It’s unbelievable,” says Rick Chin, who went to college and was in the same pledge class at the University of Tennessee with Joseph. “He was always able to put a smile on your face and was always really active in his community.”

Chin, from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, says he and everyone who knew the family can’t believe they’re gone.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” he says. “It’s so tragic to lose such an active and vibrant family. It’s devastating.”

Joseph, he adds, was always willing to have a good time and “had a great head on his shoulders. He was very successful in his community as well. His wife was also a wonderful person and I know his kids were doing really well in school.”

A family member confirmed the news to ABC, saying that “the relatives are grief stricken and in shock. They are a prominent family in Jackson, Tennessee, with roots that go back to the Revolutionary War.”

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The children — Jacob and Jillian — were also beloved by the private school they attended in Jackson.

“Our school community is grieving the heartbreaking loss of the Crenshaw family,” the University of Jackson School wrote on Facebook.

The National Transportation Safety Board confirms to PEOPLE that they’re in the very early stages to determine what caused the crash.

Part of the investigation will be to collect radar data, aircraft maintenance inspection records, medical records of the pilot, air traffic control communication if available, as well as any witness accounts.

“It spun around and took a nose dive down the wing came down over us the wind carried it over into the field,” witness Brittany Reno, who saw the plane as she was driving, told WIAT.

Another local resident, Charles Cullwell, told the news outlet that the plane landed on his property.

“It is a mess, it’s a rubble of tin, and you cannot tell it’s a plane,” he said.