Small plane crashes between houses; four on plane killed

Thursday, December 9th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, N.J. (AP) -- A small plane crashed between two houses in a residential neighborhood Thursday night, killing all four people aboard and setting a garage on fire, authorities said.

Three people on the ground were injured, hospital officials said.

"It was a big flash of light and a boom," said Carlos Mortillo, who lives about two blocks from the crash site in northern New Jersey.

The twin-engine Beech Baron 58 left from Hanover County, Va., and was on an approach to Teterboro Airport, across the Hudson River from New York City, said Jim Peters, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. The crew was talking with air traffic controllers when it crashed about two miles from the airport.

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Bob Hancock said he didn't know if the pilot reported any trouble before the plane disappeared from radar at 5:32 p.m. He said two men and two women were aboard the six-seat plane.

Weather at the time was fair, with mild winds and visibility of five miles.

"I thought my house exploded," said Joanne Minervino, who said she lived about two blocks from where the aircraft crashed. "The whole house shook. Everybody's house shook."

Three of the four people on board died in the crash. The fourth passenger, who was seriously burned, died about four hours later at Hackensack University Medical Center, said spokesman Brian Thompson.

The hospital also treated an off-duty firefighter for burns on his hands; a firefighter for smoke inhalation and a neighbor for a mild concussion.

Councilman Justin Di Pisa said eyewitnesses told him that the plane struck two trees and a detached garage, which caught fire.

"There's nothing left," he said. "There's no fuselage. There's no wing. You can't even tell it's a plane."

The crash occurred 13 days after a single-engine plane crashed into another northern New Jersey neighborhood in Newark, killing a family of three aboard and injuring 25 on the ground.