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Tennessee plane crash victims all members of Kansas ranching family

Mark Zaleski / AP

Investigators carry a body from the crash site Tuesday where a small plane crashed Monday near a YMCA in suburban Nashville, Tenn.

The hero pilot of the light plane that crashed Monday in Nashville, Tenn., killing the man and three of his relatives, was a prominent Kansas rancher on his way to the nation's largest cattle industry trade show, authorities said Tuesday.

Glenn Mull, 62, of Great Bend, Kan., owner of Mid-Kansas Agri Co. and Mull's Farms and Feeding, was credited with saving many lives for having banked his plane into the ground instead of into rush-hour traffic or into a YMCA building just a few yards away.

The Metro Nashville/Davidson County medical examiner's office confirmed Mull's identity Tuesday afternoon, along with those of his three passengers: Elaine Mull, 63, his wife; Amy Harter, 40, their daughter; and Samantha Harter, 16, their granddaughter. All lived in Great Bend.

Family members and company officials said Mull was flying to Nashville to attend the Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show at the Opryland Convention Center.

Aerial footage shows the scene in Bellevue, Tenn., where a Gulfstream plane crashed near a YMCA on Monday, killing four people aboard the aircraft.

The plane, a twin-engine Gulfstream 690C, went down shortly before 5 p.m. ET Monday just outside the YMCA in Bellevue, a southwest suburban neighborhood of Nashville.

No injuries were reported at the YMCA — where the plane slammed into the ground a mere 20 feet from a wall.

"While details of the crash are still emerging, the near-miss of our building surely saved dozens of people from harm," the YMCA of Middle Tennessee said in a statement, adding that its prayers "continue to be with the victims' families and all those affected by the crash."

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were on the scene Tuesday. Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron said foul play wasn't suspected.

Aaron said the plane missed its first approach to the Nashville airport. It was circling back to make a second attempt and was coming in low, he said.

Metro Nashville Fire District Chief George Hickey said the death toll at the "totally devastated" scene could have been much worse. The plane came down in a sliver of green space between the YMCA and a retirement home as vehicles flooded nearby roads at the height of rush hour.

The pilot of a small plane that crashed Monday in Nashville, Tenn., was being called a hero for possibly saving the lives of many on the ground by maneuvering away from a nearby YMCA.

"The pilot did one hell of a job," Hickey said. "No buildings were hit. I may be wrong, but I really want to take my hat off to the pilot."

Dee Likes, executive vice president of the Kansas Livestock Association, said Mull was "a very experienced pilot and had flown this plane many, many times."

"We're all feeling it," Likes told NBC station WSMV of Nashville, calling Mull "very personable — everybody liked him."

Jeanine Haynes, Mull's sister, told WSMV on Tuesday that Mull and his wife were "a part of the very thread that weaved the heartbeat of the family."

"The tremendous void left in the ashes of the crash will be a stinging reminder in the days to come of the ones taken too soon," she said.

Mull was also described as a prominent figure in Pawnee County, where his company has been in business for 105 years.

"Glenn was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. Both he and his wife Elaine were well-known for their generous spirit and commitment to improving Pawnee County," Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said in a statement. 

"Glenn, Elaine, their daughter Amy and granddaughter Samantha will be greatly missed," he said.