Televangelist Creflo Dollar has died after his private jet crashed shortly after take-off from Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, Atlanta.
Eyewitnesses claim to have seen a bright flash before smoke and fire enveloped the plane just minutes into its maiden flight. Reports suggest a lightning strike may be to blame for the tragic accident.
Police have confirmed that Air Traffic Control received two may day calls before communication was lost. Search and rescue helicopters were deployed after debris from the plane was spotted in nearby College Park. There have been no reports of survivors.
Aviation expert Greg Olivander has spoken of his surprise to hear that a lightning strike may be responsible for the crash, “Due to huge developments in lightning-safety research and the subsequent introduction of lightning protection rules, the likelihood of a crash as the result of a lightning strike is extremely small. This was truly an act of God.”
Dollar, 55, had recently unveiled the purchase of the $65 state of the art jet which he claimed was “necessary to spread the Gospel”. He rejected claims that the money could be better spent by saying, “God has revealed to me that He will use the jet for great things.”
The funding of the jet has been shrouded in mystery after an initial attempt to raise money was dropped after Dollar received widespread criticism for asking members of his congregation to contribute in the acquisition of the plane.
Creflo Dollar was the founder of the non-denominational Word Changers Church International. With ‘Creflo Dollar Ministries’ he reached a worldwide audience of millions and was known as an advocate of the controversial ‘prosperity Gospel’. Dollar leaves his wife Taffi and their five children.