The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)
4 dead in small plane crash
Business jet hits Farmington building shortly after takeoff
FARMINGTON — Four people were killed after a small jet experiencing trouble after takeoff slammed into a commercial building adjacent to the airport Thursday morning, officials said.
Two pilots and two passengers were killed in the crash, officials said.
When officers arrived just before 10 a.m., they found both the plane — a Cessna Citation 560X business jet — and the building engulfed in flames. Officials said early indications were there was a mechanical failure when the plane took off from Robertson Airport, feet from where the plane went down and hit the Trumpf Inc. building.
The plane, which first hit into a small field adjacent to the business, flipped upside down and only a portion of the tail was visible outside the southwest wall of the building as fire crews from several agencies worked to put out the fire.
“It appears there was some type of mechanical failure during the takeoff sequence that resulted in the crash behind us,” Farmington police Lt. Tim McKenzie said.
Though the Trumpf Inc. building caught fire and was badly damaged, all the employees were accounted for, McKenzie said. In a short statement, Trumpf Inc., which manufactures fabricating machinery and industrial lasers, said two employees were injured.
The Federal Aviation Administration, which is among several agencies investigating the crash, said the plane had taken off and was headed for Dare County Regional Airport in Manteo, N.C.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it was investigating the crash. A spokesperson for the agency said a team would be at the scene late Thursday or early Friday.
The runway for Robertson Airport, a small private airfield, sits about 1,500 feet from where the plane crashed. Debris littered the field next to the Trumpf building and the plane had cut deep grooves in the grass.
Witnesses to the crash said the plane appeared to be having trouble in air before it went down. The exact cause of the crash remains under investigation.
“The investigation is in the very early stages,” McKenzie said. Investigators were still working Thursday morning to get the flight manifest.
Officials said they were not immediately releasing the tail number.
McKenzie could not say how high the plane was when it started having trouble, but said, “I don’t believe it was very high because it had just taken off.”
A representative from Trumpf Inc. reached Thursday afternoon referred all questions to Farmington authorities.
While authorities worked through the morning to mark evidence and extinguish the last hot spots from the fire, Gov. Ned Lamont visited the scene to survey the damage.
“My prayers are with those on the ground and with the souls on board,” Lamont said.
Matthew Accarpio was working nearby when he heard a loud boom and the power went out.
“The smoke was intense, black smoke then white,” he said.
He said the response from emergency crews seemed instant. “We heard sirens immediately,” he said.
Not long after the boom, a steady stream of people were evacuating from the area, he said.