Former NFL tight end and Super Bowl champion Russ Francis has been identified as one of the two people who died in a plane crash Sunday at the Lake Placid Airport in upstate New York, according to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. The Patriots confirmed his death on Monday but not the circumstances around it. He was 70 years old.
“We are deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic loss of former New England Patriots tight end Russ Francis,” the statement read. “Our condolences are extended to Francis’ family and friends.”
Francis recently purchased the Lake Placid Airways scenic tour business and was on the airplane with Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s senior president Richard McSpadden, who also died in the crash, per the Daily Enterprise.
We are deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic loss of former New England Patriots tight end Russ Francis. Our condolences are extended to Francis’ family and friends. pic.twitter.com/sgrrPZ5Ui4— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 2, 2023
McSpadden was in the right seat of the plane, a Cessna 177 Cardinal, when it experienced an emergency after takeoff around 4:09 p.m. ET, according to the AOPA.
“The airplane attempted to return to the airport but failed to make the runway,” the AOPA said in a statement, per Syracuse.com. “Both occupants lost their lives.”
Francis was selected in the first round of the 1975 NFL draft by the Patriots and played with New England until he was traded to the 49ers in 1982. He was a part of the San Francisco team that won Super Bowl XIX. Francis eventually was waived in 1987 and rejoined New England that same season before before retiring in 1989. He was selected to three Pro Bowls.
He is survived by his wife, Judy; his son, Grant; and his daughter, Annabel.