A single engine plane has crashed onto a metro Atlanta interstate shortly after takeoff, killing all four people onboard.
The aircraft burst into flames, but none on the ground was hurt although the plane nearly stuck a vehicle.
“It’s a miracle, literally a miracle, that no other cars were hit,” DeKalb Fire Capt Eric Jackson said.
The Piper PA-32 crashed minutes after taking off from DeKalb Peachtree Airport on May 8.
Rescue workers shut down Interstate 285 in both directions so investigators could determine what happened. The closure created traffic problems through the city.
Authorities did not immediately release the names of the victims.
The plane officially took off at 9:59 a.m. and was scheduled to land just before 11 a.m. CT in Oxford, Miss., according to FlightAware, flight-tracking service. It arrived around 9:15 a.m. from Asheville, N.C., where the plane apparently was based.
The plane was clearly in distress, said witnesses, many who slammed on their brakes to avoid what was developing.
All lanes in both directions of I-285 are blocked at the scene, and Georgia Department of Transportation officials say the interstate will be closed for at least eight hours and are telling all travelers to take alternate routes and avoid the area for the rest of the day.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said the number of health workers potentially exposed to anthrax has risen to 84.
The count of those at risk of illness has risen from the 75 initially reported on Thursday.
The CDC said researchers in a high-level biosecurity laboratory failed to follow proper procedures and did not inactivate the bacteria.
The exposure occurred in Atlanta at the weekend, the CDC has said.
The FBI is helping the CDC to investigate. The agency said it was too early to determine whether the transfer was accidental or intentional.
Eighty four Atlanta-based CDC scientists were possibly exposed to live anthrax
Symptoms of anthrax exposure include skin ulcers, nausea and vomiting and fever, and can lead to death.
Anthrax bacteria live primarily in inactive spores and are found naturally in the soil, but people can ingest or inhale spores, which can make the anthrax active.
Not everyone will fall sick when exposed to anthrax but left untreated, anthrax illness can turn very serious or lead to death.
Tests to confirm anthrax exposure include a blood swab.
Anthrax entered the US national consciousness in 2001, when shortly after the 9/11 attacks, letters containing powdered anthrax arrived at news organizations and the offices of US senators. Twenty-two people became ill and of those, five people died.
In a statement, the CDC said the anthrax samples were moved from a high-security lab to a lower-security one at their Atlanta headquarters.
“Workers, believing the samples were inactivated, were not wearing adequate personal protective equipment while handling the material,” the agency said.
“The unintentional exposure was discovered June 13 when the original bacterial plates were gathered for disposal and B. anthracis colonies [live bacteria] were found on the plates.”
The normal incubation period for anthrax illness can take up to seven days, but there have been cases of illness occurring as many as 60 days after exposure.
Fifty-four of the 84 identified employees had been treated at the CDC’s health clinic by Thursday morning, with two refusing a course of antibiotics. Twenty-seven employees also began the anthrax vaccine.
Martha Jo Katz, a former hotel social director who worked with Whitney Houston and her ex-husband Bobby Brown recalled the late singer loved Atlanta, her home for many years.
“When she first started coming to the hotel, probably around 1992 or 1993, she was so beautiful,” said Martha Jo Katz, who served as director of social events for the Swissotel in Buckhead (now the Westin) from 1991 to 2004.
“I can remember her telling me how much she loved Atlanta. It was so green. People were nice and friendly here. She liked being in Atlanta. When I first met her she was fairly quiet and reserved. She was very cordial. You have to understand that a lot of high profile actors and singers are very high maintenance.”
Over time, Whitney Houston became something of a high-attention client, too.
“She always had very beautiful suites. There were things they had to have in their suite,” Martha Jo Katz said.
“They did some entertaining up there so there were certain foods and beverages that they requested.”
Whitney Houston often brought groups of friends to the hotel, and was frequently spotted with her daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown.
“She loved that child. That was the apple of her eye. That child was so important to her,” Martha Jo Katz said.
“One of the last times I saw her she was having dinner with her daughter and they were eating with Brandy. When I stopped to talk to her she said, do you know Brandy?”
Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston’s Atlanta home under construction in 1993
Even after Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown bought a home at Country Club of the South they – especially Whitney – remained clients. She always enjoyed her time there.
“She ordered room service, she went shopping at Lenox and Phipps,” Martha Jo Katz said.
“She was fairly visible. A lot of times celebrities want to come in the back way. They want to take the service elevator with bodyguards. But she would come down the (guest) elevator. She’d be in the bar, at The Palm. It wasn’t like she hid.”
Over time, though, Whitney Houston became thinner and thinner and sometimes seemed distressed.
“Sometimes she would come through the lobby without makeup,” Martha Jo Katz said. “Towards the end of the time I was there – 2004 – sometimes she would be in the lobby or at the bar with no makeup, no sunglasses or hat, which I thought was unusual.”
Martha Jo Katz said she’ll remember Whitney Houston in her early prime.
“I want to remember that other way,” she said.
“It was sad that her demons had just gotten a hold of her and she couldn’t control it.”
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