MOSCOW — Investigators say a Russian jet crash that killed 44 people, including an entire professional ice hockey team, was caused by pilot error.

The Interstate Aviation Committee said Wednesday that the Sept. 7 crash of the Yak-42 plane near the city of Yaroslavl in central Russia occurred because one of the pilots accidentally activated the brakes during takeoff and then lifted the jet too sharply, causing it to crash.

The plane crashed into the banks of the Volga River, 150 miles (240 kilometers) northeast of Moscow.

It was one of the worst aviation disasters ever in sports, shocking Russia and the world of hockey, as the dead included 36 players, coaches and staff of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team. The only player who survived the crash later died of burns. A flight engineer was the sole survivor.