ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A two-time Olympic distance runner, his 15-year-old son and his son’s friend were killed in a plane crash in Sedona, Ariz., his wife said Friday.
Pat Porter, who ran for famed club Athletics West during the 1980s, was piloting the Beech B-60 when it crashed and burst into flames on takeoff Thursday morning, killing all aboard, including his son, Connor, and his friend, Connor Mantsch, said Trish Porter.
Pat Porter was a graduate of Adams State University in Alamosa, Colo., where he lived and trained after college.
Recruited by no one out of high school in Colorado, according to a 1986 Sports Illustrated story, he went on to win a record eight straight USA Track Field senior men’s cross-country national championships from 1982-89.
An FAA database showed the plane was registered to Pat Porter, but the family and authorities had declined to confirm the victims’ identities before Trish Porter called a news conference.
The 14-year-old Mantsch attended Albuquerque Academy with her son.
She said her husband and the boys had been to Sedona for three days before the plane went down.
Just before the crash, Porter said she and her husband had exchanged “humorous text messages.”
“My last text message to him: ‘When are you coming home’?” she said at the press conference, with her daughter, Shannon, 11.
Trish Porter — also a former Olympian and a 1984 Oregon graduate who high jumped for the Ducks in 1981 and ’83 — said she found out about the crash Thursday afternoon as she drove back from ice skating training for Shannon.
“At this point there are no indications as to what may have caused this accident,” Tom Little, the National Transportation Safety Board inspector assigned to investigate, told Reuters.
The former 10,000-meter Olympian and 13-time distance runner national champion Pat Porter married high jumper Trish King in 1991 after the two met during a pre-Olympic training camp for the 1988 Seoul Olympics, according to Trish Porter’s website. Trish King, a virtual unknown, competed in the 1988 games as a high jumper. She since holds a world masters record in the 40-44 age division.
“He made me laugh,” the Menlo Park, Calif., native said. “He was just a lot of fun.”
Connor Porter was nationally ranked in fencing. His classmate, Mantsch, was preparing for his freshman year at Albuquerque Academy.
In the 1986 Sports Illustrated story, Porter recounted one of his brutal Alamosa training sessions — he averaged 120 miles a week — in particular, when he ran a 4 minute, 1 second mile at altitude.
“I saw God, too, right at the end. Everything got foggy, and there were bright sparkles.”