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Pilot In Fatal I-287 Plane Crash Apparently Tried To Declare Emergency

Wreckage from a plane that crashed on I-287 near Morris Township, NJ - Dec 20, 2011 (credit: Wayne Cabot / WCBS 880)

Wreckage from a plane that crashed on I-287 near Morris Township, NJ – Dec 20, 2011 (credit: Wayne Cabot / WCBS 880)

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HARDING TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The pilot of a small plane that crashed on the interstate in New Jersey, killing all five people on board, appeared to be calling for help just before the plane went down.

Photos: I-287 Plane Crash

Pilot Jeffrey Buckalew, his wife and two children and business associate Rakesh Chawla, all from Manhattan, were killed after their private plane broke up over I-287 in Morris County on Tuesday.

The flaming cabin landed in the middle of the road but miraculously, no drivers were hurt. The plane had just left Teterboro Airport and was heading to suburban Atlanta.

In an audio recording of his exchange with controllers, Buckalew says, “N-7-3-1 Charlie Alpha declaring an —” before the transmission ends. He appears to be starting to form the word “emergency.”

The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to issue a preliminary report on the crash next week.

The NTSB is investigating whether icing may have caused the crash.

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(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)