Mayor: Pilot tells police plane crash was intentional
East Hartford, Conn. — The survivor of a deadly plane crash on a busy road near the headquarters of military jet-engine maker Pratt & Whitney told police detectives the wreck was intentional, the mayor said Wednesday.
East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc told The Associated Press that the badly burned survivor told authorities the crash on Tuesday was not an accident, but she cautioned that investigators have not confirmed that information.
“It’s troubling,” Leclerc said. “But I also know that stories change and information can be skewed. We’re waiting for the facts to come out.”
The FBI, Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board were investigating. Police in Hartford also were investigating an apartment in connection with the wreck.
Authorities said a student pilot and an instructor were trying to land the Piper PA-34 Seneca at Brainard Airport in Hartford when it struck a utility pole in East Hartford and crashed onto the road at around 4 p.m., bursting into flames. The crash site is a short distance from the airport, across the Connecticut River and in line with the runway.
The plane had two sets of controls, East Hartford police Lt. Joshua Litwin told reporters Wednesday. He said he didn’t know which person aboard was controlling the plane when it crashed. It also wasn’t immediately clear whether the student or the instructor was the survivor.
The police chief in East Hartford asked the FBI to assist in the investigation because it happened so close to Pratt & Whitney.
“The path that the plane took could have been much worse. So we’re very fortunate in that sense,” Chief Scott Sansom said.
Police say the survivor is hospitalized with serious burns and is expected to live. The other person remained in the wreckage and was presumed dead. Police haven’t released their names.
Two people in a minivan that came close to colliding with the plane were taken to a hospital with minor injuries.
In Hartford, local, state and federal authorities were investigating an apartment in connection with the plane crash, Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley said. He did not release more details, including why the apartment was being investigated.
“The scene is safe and secure,” Foley said. “We want to assure our residents they are not in danger.”
Authorities urged people to avoid the crash site as investigators continued their work.
“This is a very complex investigation with a lot of different agencies and a lot of different moving parts,” fire Chief John Oates said.