Two-time Olympic 10,000-meter runner Pat Porter and two children, which included his 15-year-old son Connor, died Thursday in a tragic plane crash near the Sedona (Ariz.) Airport around 8:30 a.m. local time.
In a release from Adams State College, where Porter was an inaugural member of the school’s athletic Hall of Fame, the twin-engine plane registered in Porter’s name hit a boundary fence at the end of the Sedona Airport runway before falling down a steep mesa. The release said the plane then burst into flames upon impact at the bottom of the hill, according to Sedona Police Department Field Operations Commander Ron Wheeler. Porter’s son Connor and Connor's friend were also killed. There were no survivors. Porter was 53.
Porter lived in Albuquerque, N.M., and was an avid pilot. He is survived by his wife of more than 20 years, Trish, who was a 1988 Olympian in the high jump and their 11-year old daughter Shannon.
Porter was a member of Team USA in the 10,000m at both the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games. He finished second in the 10,000m at the 1985 IAAF World Cup. He also claimed a total of eight USA Cross Country titles in his career.
"Our hearts go out to the victims' families for this tragic loss," said USATF CEO Max Siegel. "Pat was one of the greatest American cross country runners in history and inspired a generation of distance runners. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife and daughter."
A standout for Adams State College, Porter was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2000 and was also recently inducted into the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) Hall of Fame last Friday, July 20, in Colorado Springs, Colo.
During his collegiate career, Porter won both the 1980 and 1981 NAIA individual Cross Country Championships helping Adams State to team titles in both of those years and was a member of Adams State’s 1979 national title team. Each of those teams has been inducted into the RMAC Hall of Fame.
Porter won the 2-mile NAIA national championship at the 1982 Indoor Championships. Porter was also inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in 1987 and was named as the RMAC's All-Time Top Cross Country runner during the conference's 2009 centennial celebration.