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Former New England Patriots star Russ Francis dies in New York plane crash

Former New England Patriots tight end Russ Franch and one other man reportedly died in a plane crash at Lake Placid Airport on Sunday afternoon in New York.

Francis, age 70, was the 16th overall pick in the 1975 NFL Drafted. Drafted out of Oregon, the 6-foot-6 tight end quickly emerged as one of the best Patriots’ players of his era.

  • Russ Francis stats (career): 393 receptions, 5,262 receiving yards, 40 touchdowns

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According to Aaron Marborne of the Adiron Daily Enterprise, Francis and Richard McSpadden, the senior vice president of the AOPA Air Safety Institute, were killed on Sunday in the plane crash.

Shortly after taking off, the Cessna 177 Cardinal being flown reported an emergency. While attempting to return to make an emergency landing. However, the plane failed to make the runway

Lake Placid volunteer firefighters conducted rescue operations to try and save Francis and McSpadden. Following extensive efforts to reach the plane, which had landed sideways at the bottom of an embankment, both occupants were found and declared dead. The NTSB is set to investigate the crash.

“Russ Francis and I became close friends right away. His energy was infectious and was so excited to be an integral part of our community. A terrible tragedy. I will delay any further comments until after consoling his family.”

Derek Doty, North Elba Town Supervisor, on the death of Ross Francis (H/T Enterprise)

Francis spent many of his early years in Hawaii, becoming a star at Kailua High School. He later went to Pleasant Hill High School near Eugene, Oregon, where he set the high school javelin record (259 ft, 9 inches) in 1971. A multi-sport star, Francis eventually enrolled at the University of Oregon.

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As a rookie, he quickly experienced success. In a run-heavy league, Francis recorded 35 receptions for 636 receiving yards and four touchdowns in his first season. By 1976, he earned his first Pro Bowl selection and was named second-team All-Pro.

Francis would stay with the Patriots through the 1980 season, compiling 2,996 receiving yards and 28 touchdowns in 79 games. Following a one-year retirement with a stint at ABC Sports, he joined the San Francisco 49ers and helped them win Super Bowl XIX.

After five seasons with the 49ers, Francis rejoined the Patriots in 1987. Following the 1988 season, he retired. Francis was later inducted into the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame and is a member of the Patriots’ ALl-1970s Team and their 35th Anniversary Team.

Francis reportedly had a long admiration for flying and recently became the owner of Lake Placid Airways. According to FAA records obtained by The Boston Globe, Francis had authorization to fly helicopters and both single- and multi-engine planes.

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