POSTED: 7:34 a.m. HST, Aug 9, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 11:17 a.m. HST, Aug 9, 2013
EAST HAVEN, Conn. » A small plane crashed in a working-class neighborhood near an airport today and engulfed two houses in flames, killing at least two people and leaving a third feared dead.
The multi-engine, propeller-driven plane struck two small homes a few blocks from Tweed New Haven Airport as it came in for a landing.
Soon after the crash, officials said at least three people were missing: the pilot and two children in one of the houses, ages 1 and 13. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy later said the plane also may have been carrying two passengers but that officials were still trying to verify whether that was true.
"We haven't recovered anybody at this point and we presume there is going to be a very bad outcome," East Haven Fire Chief Douglas Jackson said early this afternoon.
Less than two hours later, Malloy said rescuers had spotted two bodies but had not yet been recovered them. The plane's fuselage had entered one of the houses and the recovery effort was focusing on the home's basement, the governor said.
The plane, a Rockwell International Turbo Commander 690B, flew out of Teterboro Airport in New Jersey and crashed at 11:25 a.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Tweed's airport manager, Lori Hoffman-Soares, said the pilot had been in communication with air traffic control and did not issue any distress calls.
"All we know is that it missed the approach and continued on," she said.
A neighbor, David Esposito, said he heard a loud noise and then a thump. "No engine noise, nothing," he said.
"A woman was screaming her kids were in there," he said.
Esposito, a 54-year-old retired teacher, said he ran into the upstairs of the house, where the woman believed her children were, but could not 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.
Wilson Idrovo said he was working on a house nearby when his son said: "Daddy, the airplane is falling down."
Idrovo said he went into the house but couldn't get into a room where the plane had crashed. "I feel so bad," he said.
Angela Wordie was on her deck bringing in towels when she noticed a plane making a strange sound.
"It kind of was gliding. The next thing I know it hit the house," she said.
Another neighbor, Pablo Arenas, said he and his neighbors live in fear of the planes. He said some pilots appear to be novices in training, while neighbors said planes often fly low and that larger aircraft have begun using the airport in recent years.
East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo offered sympathy to the family.
"It's total devastation in the back of the home," he said.
Neighbors said the woman moved into the neighborhood recently.
Associated Press writer Michael Melia in Hartford, Conn. contributed to this report.