4 bodies pulled from wreckage of US plane crash
Saturday, August 10, 2013, 8:23 -
Four bodies have been recovered from the site of a plane crash in a residential Connecticut neighbourhood, a fire official said Saturday. Those presumed dead are the pilot, a former Microsoft executive, his teenage son and two children in a home struck by the plane.
The bodies -- two from the plane and two from one of the two houses it struck -- were pulled from the site Friday shortly before midnight, said Anthony Moscato, deputy chief of the East Haven Fire Department. He said they are believed to be the only victims.
The multi-engine, propeller-driven plane was coming in for a landing at Tweed New Haven Airport in rainy weather just before noon Friday when the plane struck two small homes, engulfing them in flames. The aircraft's left wing lodged in one house and its right wing in the other.
On Saturday, crews removed charred sections of the plane as National Transportation Safety Board investigators worked to determine the cause of the crash.
NTSB investigator Patrick Murray said Saturday that the plane was upside down when it struck a house at about a 60 degree angle. He said the pilot was making his first approach to the airport and did not declare an emergency before the crash.
Before analyzing any data, Murray said at a news conference in New Haven, "We don't have any indication there was anything wrong with the plane.''
A preliminary NTSB report on the crash is expected within 10 business days. A more in-depth report could take up to nine months.
Authorities previously said as many as six people could have been killed. The victims were not immediately identified. Their remains were sent to the Connecticut medical examiner's office as the National Transportation Safety Board continued its investigation of the crash.
Two children, ages 1 and 13, have been missing since the plane crashed into their home.
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 learned it was Bill Henningsgaard's plane through the tail number, said his brother, Blair Henninsgaard, the city attorney in Astoria, Oregon.
It wasn't his first crash. In April 2009, Henningsgaard crash-landed his small plane on Washington state's Columbia River when the engine quit as he was flying from Astoria to Seattle. He and his 84-year-old mother climbed out on a wing and were rescued by a passing boat as the plane began to sink.
Henningsgaard was a member of Seattle-based Social Venture Partners, a foundation that helps build up communities. The foundation extended its condolences to his wife and two daughters.
"There are hundreds of people that have a story about Bill -- when he went the extra mile, when he knew just the right thing to say, how he would never give up. He was truly all-in for this community, heart, mind and soul,'' the foundation wrote Friday in a post on its website.
The 10-seater plane, a Rockwell International Turbo Commander 690B, flew out of Teterboro Airport in New Jersey and crashed at 11:25 a.m., the Federal Aviation Administration said.
Tweed's airport manager, Lori Hoffman-Soares, said the pilot had been in communication with air traffic control and hadn't issued any distress calls.
"All we know is that it missed the approach and continued on,'' Hoffman-Soares said.
A neighbour, David Esposito, said he heard a loud noise and then a thump: "No engine noise, nothing.''
"A woman was screaming her kids were in there,'' he said.
Esposito, a retired teacher, said he ran into the upstairs of the house, where the woman believed her children were, but he couldn't find them after frantically searching a crib and closets. He returned downstairs to search some more, but he dragged the woman out when the flames became too strong.
Henningsgaard spent 14 years at Microsoft in various marketing and sales positions, according to his biography on Social Venture Partners website. He was a longtime board member at Youth Eastside Services, a Bellevue, Washington-based agency that provides counselling and substance-abuse treatment, and led the organization's $10.7 million fundraising campaign for its new headquarters, which opened in 2008.
With files from The Associated Press