At about 1210 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it impacted trees during initial climb. The Private pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. Instrument conditions prevailed and IFR flight plan was filed. A witness near the accident site stated he heard the sound of an airplane engine followed by a ripping sound, and then quiet. He further stated that it was raining hard, with thunder and lightning in the area. The airplane was located about 1505 by local police. It struck trees on a hill and came to rest about mile from the airport, on a bearing of 265 degrees from the departure end of Runway 28. All major portions of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site. No obvious mechanical problems were discovered in the airplanes wreckage. Weather observed at the departure airport, at 1215, included winds from 310 degrees at seven knots; visibility statute miles; ceiling 100 feet broken, 1000 feet overcast.