Friday, a small airplane that took off from Teterboro Airport in northern New Jersey crashed into a Connecticut house killing at least 2 people.
Bill Henningsgaard was flying the plane, and his son, Maxwell, was on board. They set out from New Jersey towards Connecticut on their latest tour of colleges. In 2014, Maxwell was set to graduate. They had flown across the country from the Pacific Northwest visiting college campuses. On this particular journey, they were going to visit Yale.
Meanwhile, in East Haven, Connecticut, about a half a mile from Tweed New Haven Airport, going about their normal morning routine, were a woman and her two children, ages 1 and 13. According to authorities, the woman was in the front of the house and the children were in the back.
Recipe for disaster
A recipe for disaster was brewing when, around 11:25 a.m., something went terribly wrong with Mr. Henningsgaard’s multi-engine turboprop aircraft above the woman’s home. The plane crashed into her house on Charter Oak Avenue mere moments later.
According to Mr. Henningsgaard’s brother, Blair, Mr. Henningsgaard, 54, and Maxwell, 17, were killed in the tragic crash.
The unidentified woman escaped, but authorities state that her children probably did not make it out of their house alive.
The woman ran out into the street, screaming for help. According to witnesses, moments after the crash, as flames engulfed the two-story home, neighbors entered the house to search for the children, but were driven out by the smoke and the fire, unsuccessful.
The woman, who was overwhelmed by grief and with a priest by her side as it became more and more unlikely that her children had survived, stood in the rain as dozens of emergency workers tried to control the blaze.
According to Mayor Joseph Maturo of East Haven:
We are doing everything we can for the mom. Our hearts go out to her and her family.”
Officials, Hours after the crash, officials said they had identified only two bodies — an adult and child — in the basement. They were continuing to work their way through the wreckage.
The house remained too unstable Friday night for the authorities to conduct a thorough search.
According to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut on Friday afternoon, there could be as many as five victims. However, Robert Gretz, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, said at a nighttime news conference that there could have been as many as six victims,three in the plane and three on the ground.
While Blair Henningsgaard said that he believed only his brother and Maxwell were on the flight, he stated that he could not be sure.
Bill Henningsgaard, a former Microsoft executive, was an experienced and “very careful pilot,” who had been flying the plane he was in for six or seven years, his brother said.
Governor Malloy said the pilot had aborted his first landing attempt and was circling back for a second try:
It appears that there was a first approach. For whatever reason, that approach was not executed.”
At the news conference, Mr. Gretz stated that the pilot had not made a distress call. Also, there was no evidence the plane had run out of fuel.
It was a windy and rainy morning, but Tweed Airport was operating normally.
Mayor Maturo said the woman was in the house with her children at the time of the crash.
It’s total devastation in the back of the home.”
A neighbor, Chris Dogolo, 59, was at home a few doors down from the crash site when he heard a loud explosion and rushed outside.
According to Mr. Dogolo:
There were people running down the street panicking. A lady was screaming that there were two kids in the house.”
Several people ran into the burning home, searching for the children, he said.
Dogolo added, describing what he saw:
It got progressively worse. Transformers were blowing up.”
It took firefighters about 30 minutes to get the blaze under control, and two houses suffered partial collapse.It is believed that one of the houses was empty.
The plane was a Rockwell International Turbo Commander 690B. It can be configured to have 7 to 11 passenger seats.In 2009, Mr. Henningsgaard, while flying in a single-engine plane with his mother, crashed. Neither was seriously injured.
On Friday night, investigators from the transportation board arrived on the scene to take over the case. Official reported that Tweed Airport remained closed, officials said.
just four blocks away from the crash site, Morgan Cianelli, said the neighborhood’s residents were used to hearing planes overhead:
We could tell this plane was super low, and it was just not normal. We had heard the engine completely give out. Like, you heard the engine over our house, and you could hear no more engine.”
Morgan Cianelli said that the plane was still in the air when the engine noise stopped. She added that there was a lapse in time before she heard the explosion.
“All of the sudden the noise from the plane was gone,” she said, “but we knew the plane was still up there.”
In Connecticut Friday, a plane crashed into a house, killing at least 2.The cause of the accident is still under investigation. Soon after the crash, officials had said at least three people were missing: the pilot and two children, ages 1 and 13, in one of the houses.If these deaths are confirmed, the death toll will rise to 4-6 victims killed.
Written by: Douglas Cobb