The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)
Investigators search for cause of small-jet crash
FARMINGTON — Federal regulators on Friday began examining the wreckage of a small plane that crashed into a manufacturing center, killing both pilots and two passengers onboard.
National Transportation Safety Board investigators were digging through the rubble to determine why the twin engine Cessna 560 X crashed into Trumpf Inc. in Farmington around 10:30 a.m. Thursday after taking off from nearby Robertson Airport in Plainville.
Investigators and others used heavy machinery to remove parts of the airplane, including the engine, from the wreckage for further inspection.
Keith Holloway, an NTSB spokesman, said the team will “document the scene, data, weather reports and contact any witnesses and examine the aircraft, re
quest any air traffic communications, radar.”
Holloway added investigators will “request maintenance records of the aircraft, and medical records and flight history of the pilot. It is important to note that the investigation is in its early stage and there is not a lot of information that is available.”
Police identified the pilots as Mark Morrow, 57, of Danbury, and William O’Leary, 55, of Bristol.
The two passengers were identified as Courtney Haviland, 33, and her husband, William Shrauner, 32, both Boston doctors. Haviland, a Farmington native, was a pediatrician while her husband specialized in internal medicine.
Federal Aviation Administration records show Morrow and O’Leary were pilots in good standing, and had worked as flight instructors.
Morrow held an active commercial airline transport pilot’s license and was certified to fly single- and multi-engine planes such as the Cessna, which is equipped with twin, fan-cooled, turbo props.
O’Leary held an active airline transport license and was certified for single- and multi-engine planes, FAA records show.
The plane in April 2017 was registered to Brook Haven Properties LLC in Camden, Delaware, according to FAA records.
In March 2016, the plane was listed as registered by Central Connecticut Aircraft LLC in Plainville. A call seeking comment from the owner of the company was not returned on Friday.
Farmington Police Lt. Tim McKenzie on Thursday said the aircraft appeared to have suffered a “mechanical failure” during takeoff in the moments leading up to the crash.
Few additional details of the crash were available on Friday. McKenzie could not offer further updates and officials at the airport declined to comment.
Steve Ennis, who has worked at Trumpf for 21 years, returned to the crash scene Friday as investigators examined the remnants.
Ennis said he was sitting at his desk when he heard the loud roar of an engine.
“We knew something was up,” said Ennis, who has worked for Trumpf for 21 years. “It was really close to us. And then all of a sudden we heard a huge bang
and all of the power went out.”
He noted it’s not unusual to hear planes flying overhead given the company’s proximity to the airport.
Ennis said he and other Trumpf employees immediately knew a plane had hit the building.
“One of my employees who sits right next to me was like, ‘Oh my god, that was a plane crash,’ ” Ennis recalled. “We ran out of the building and already the flames were halfway up the building.”
Ennis said everyone managed to escape the building and only a few suffered minor injuries.
“As far as the sound of the plane itself, it was almost as if you’re standing on the tarmac while jets taxi by you,” Ennis said. “It was super loud. Employees of the building felt the whole building shake. All they could smell was burning plastic. Luckily, everyone in the building got out safely.”
Still, Ennis said the crash could have been much worse, noting the area of the building where the plane hit is a highly
“That’s where a lot of us who work in the other building enter this building,” Ennis said. “People could have gotten killed. And if it was another 20 yards down the wall, people would have gotten killed.”
Ennis said he knew of one employee who received burns from the plane crash. Police said two company employees suffered minor injuries, but said Friday they did not have an update on their conditions.