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NTSB: Up to six dead in Conn. plane crash

6:07 AM, Aug 10, 2013   |    comments
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A small twin-engine plane attempting to land Friday morning slammed into two homes near New Haven, Conn., killing up to six people, the National Transportation Safety Board said.


Witnesses reported the plane's turbo-prop engines quit moments before the crash.

Family members confirmed that former Microsoft marketing-and-sales vice president Bill Henningsgaard and his 17-year-old son, Maxwell, were aboard the Rockwell International Turbo Commander 690B, according to The Daily Astorian in Astoria, Ore., and NBC News. They were visiting East Coast colleges, including Yale, in New Haven.

Two bodies, an adult male and a younger male, were spotted in the basement of one of the East Haven homes but had not yet been recovered, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said.

A third person may have been aboard the plane, and another person may have been in one of the houses, NTSB investigator Robert Gretz said at a news briefing Friday night. Authorities were still searching the wreckage.

The crash occurred at 11:25 a.m.ET as the pilot, who had flown from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, attempted a second landing after aborting his first approach to Tweed-New Haven Airport, the Federal Aviatiation Administration said. The pilot had been in contact with air controllers and did not issue a distress call.

A neighbor, David Esposito, told the Associated Press that he heard a loud noise and then a thump. "No engine noise, nothing," he said.

The first house the plane hit was vacant, authorities said. Two children, ages 1 and 13, were in the second house.

"A woman was screaming her kids were in there," said Esposito, a retired teacher.

He described racing upstairs, where the mother believed the children were, and searching frantically for them. He then dragged the woman out when the fire became too intense.

Neighbors said the family had only recently moved into the house.

East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo described the scene as "total devastation."

Henningsgaard's family said he and his son left Monday for a tour of eight schools.

He is the son of former Astoria Mayor Edith Henningsgaard-Miller and the brother of Astoria's city attorney, Blair Henningsgaard.

"My brother was retired from Microsoft, and had set up a non-profit in Seattle to assist underprivileged youth," Blair Henningsgaard. told the New Haven Register. "His son, Max, was a brilliant student; he was active in crew, and was gentle, just a very nice kid."

Bill Henningsgaard worked for Microsoft for 14 years and had been a vice president of sales for the Western United States, Australia and New Zealand.and. He lived in Medina, Wash., a Seattle suburb, with his wife, Susan Sullivan, and their three children.

In April 2009, he and his 84-year-old mother -- who couldn't swim -- survived a crash into the Columbia River after their plane's engine died.

He later wrote about their harrowing ordeal:

Ten minutes into the flight, at 8000 feet and already across the Columbia River and over the Washington coast, the engine coughed briefly. Ten seconds later it died, he wrote in his account of the April 2009 accident.
I forced myself to confront that fact that the situation any pilot fears - a mid-air emergency, was happening right then, with my mother in the plane. I turned the plane around to try to glide back to the airport, and focused on trying to restart the engine. ...
After a harrowing five minutes in the air, we crashed into the water in front of Astoria, thankfully alive and able to scramble out onto the wing. ...


They were rescued by a bar pilot who had watched the crash from shore.

Michael Winter, USA TODAY

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