A small plane crashed into a residential neighborhood in Connecticut on Friday morning, hitting two houses and causing a fire. Four people were killed, including the pilot - a former Microsoft executive – and his teenage son and two children.
Four bodies have been recovered from the site of the crash - two
from the plane and two from one of the houses it struck, said
deputy chief of the East Haven Fire Department, Anthony Moscato.
He said that they are believed to be the only victims.
The victims were not immediately identified, and their remains were sent to the Connecticut medical examiner's office.
Two children, aged 1 and 13, have been missing since the plane crashed into their house. The children were last seen by their mother in the living room of their home.
The plane took off from New Jersey's Teterboro Airport and crashed in rainy conditions while approaching Tweed New Haven Airport around 11:25am local time. The aircraft hit houses 64 and 68 of Charter Oak Avenue, which are located in a densely populated neighborhood.
A family member said the pilot was former Microsoft executive Bill Henningsgaard, who was taking his son, Maxwell, on an East Coast tour of colleges. The family identified the plane through the tail number, according to the pilot’s brother Blair Henninsgaard. Four years ago Bill Henningsgaard crash-landed his plane on Washington's Columbia River. He and his 84-year-old mother were rescued by a passing boat.
The plane, a multi-engine turbo prop Rockwell 690B, sparked several fires and is currently “sitting in a lady’s bedroom” and one of the two homes “is totally demolished”, witness Dennis Karjanis told WTNH.
Witness David Esposito, a resident of the neighborhood, told AP that he first heard a loud noise, which was followed by a thump. He then heard screaming, which prompted him to run to the scene.
“No engine noise nothing,” he said. “A woman was screaming her kids were in there.”
The collision ignited a fire, and Esposito said he ran to the
upstairs to help the screaming woman find her children. They were
unable to locate the children upstairs, so they returned
downstairs, but after 10 minutes the flames became too strong and
Esposito was forced to drag the woman out of the house.
View of plane crash debris in East Haven. Three people unaccounted for at this time. pic.twitter.com/rNNMNW0EcT— Robert Goulston (@rgoulston) August 9, 2013
“The plane was burning slow and then it started really burning,” 55-year-old Frank Diglio, who helped look for the children, told the Hartford Courant. “The fire engines arrived in like 10 minutes. They came real quick and they told us all to move. The house got really out of control.”
Diglio said he is distressed that he failed to locate the children in time.
“I’m crying now because I couldn’t find them,” he said.
Several fire departments responded to the scene, including New Haven and Branford. Tweed Airport closed down after the incident, and the National Transportation Safety Board is taking over the scene, the mayor said.
“As far as the response, it was like a motor vehicle accident with two houses involved,” East Haven Fire Chief Douglas Jackson told NBC. “It was two structure fires and a fuel-filled vehicle involved.”
Authorities told the Register that they did not “anticipate a favorable outcome” regarding the missing children. Jackson told the Courant that firefighters have not recovered anyone, and “we presume a bad outcome.”
“We are doing everything we can for the mom,” East Haven Major Joseph Maturo said at a12:45 p.m.press conference, noting that the distraught mother is outside the home with family members and a priest. “Our hearts go out to her and her family.”
Conditions were rainy and windy at the time of the crash, but authorities do not yet know the cause of the crash.