EAST PATCHOGUE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Investigators were on the scene Tuesday night after a pilot who was killed, when his small plane came down in a Long Island backyard and burst into flames.
As CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported, investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were on the scene late Tuesday night. The crews were trying to determine why the plane went down and burst into flames – narrowly sparing the life of a mother and her baby.
Hanan Shoshany, 53, of Jamaica, Queens, was killed when the plane went down around 9 a.m. near the side of a house on Camille Lane in East Patchogue and burst into flames, CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.
Shoshany’s family has learned of his death and called him “brave and skilled.” The family grieved in New York and Israel, and his rabbi came to the crash site.
Town of Brookhaven spokesman Kevin Molloy said the plane landed between two houses. Photos from the scene posted on social media showed flames and smoke from the wreckage billowing next to a backyard play set.
Neighbors were shocked Tuesday morning, as the horrific scene jarred a quiet morning in suburbia.
“Just having my coffee; I was sitting down at the computer doing my banking when I heard some loud explosions,” said East Patchogue homeowner John Mulligan. “Then I saw an inferno on the other side of the thing, so I just ran out, grabbed the hose, and I started hosing over there.”
“There was no rescue attempt that you could make; there was nothing you could do,” said East Patchogue homeowner John Scileppi. “You could see line of fire just go right towards the house.”
“I looked around and I saw the black smoke come up and then another explosion,” neighbor Bill Hughes told WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs. “Then we all ran out the front doors, all our neighbors and tried to help out if we could, but the backyard was an inferno.”
“I looked behind me and I saw flames shooting up,” another witness told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.
The small single-engine plane crashed into an above-ground swimming pool in the backyard of 51 Camille Lane in East Patchogue. The house is home to a family of four.
Marcus Wilson owns the home where the plane crashed and said his wife and infant child were inside when the plane came down. He said his wife was in the shower when she heard an explosion.
“She didn’t know what happened at all and then once she came outside, she seen what happened. She called me and said, ‘a plane crashed into the house, a plane crashed into the house,'” he told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera. “Everybody is happy to be alive.”
The mother managed to cradle her 1-year-old and run across the street. American Red Cross mental health counselors were with them Tuesday afternoon.
“The mom, Kerri, was at home. Her baby was asleep in the house. She heard the impact of the crash in the backyard, immediately ran into the baby’s room, scooped the baby up out of bed. The baby apparently slept through the impact,” said Craig Cooper of the American Red Cross.
Molloy said there was shattered glass in the baby’s room and the exterior of the house was damaged by the fire, but said no one on the ground was hurt. A two-block radius was evacuated as a precaution, officials said.
The Wilsons’ shaken neighbor, Linda Villalobos, took frantic cellphone video as she raced to help the survivors.
“I went out to make sure that they were OK, and she was in the car. She was worried. Everybody was out, but she was worried about her dog, who took off,” Villalobos said.
Several panicked pets escaped as the fire spread. All but the Wilsons’ family dog has returned.
“The dog is a white pit bull type of dog, and the name is Jezebel. It’s a little girl. It’s a white dog with black tips on the ears,” Cooper said.
People in the community were still amazed late Tuesday at how close they came to real danger. Fausto Cando’s grandmother was home one door down, and feared for her life.
“She saw the plane that was all the way down. She was really concerned,” Cando said. “She thought the plane was going to hit the house, so she ran to the other side of the house.”
First responders said the pilot was apparently aware he was losing power. Federal Aviation Administration officials were trying to determine whether mayday calls went out before the crash.
Despite clipping trees, the pilot managed to steer his Cessna 400 aircraft away from possible victims – losing his own life in the process.
“He was leaving the Republic Airport in Farmingdale,” said Suffolk County police Detective Lt. Kevin Beyrer. “We believe he was traveling eastbound.”
The plane ended up crashing between houses.
“Luckily it went between both houses,” said Hughes. “The plane actually came through. You can see where it sheared the trees.”
“With all the air traffic going through here, it’s something that we all kind of — you never know when it’s going to happen,” said East Patchogue homeowner and witness Rose Luna.
“It’s very, very fortunate that he traveled in the path that he did,” Beyrer said. “Because of that no one was hurt in any of the houses.”
The plane above-ground pool may have also helped in keeping the flames contained, McLogan reported.
The FAA said Shoshany was the only person on board the plane, a single-engine Columbia Lancair aircraft based out of Jamaica, Queens.
The plane was headed to MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma and had taken off from Republic Airport in Farmingdale, the agency said.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it is investigating. The FAA is also on scene.
This is the second small plane crash in less than a week.
Last Friday, Richard Rockefeller, the great-grandson of Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller, was killed in a crash near Westchester County Airport.
The plane, en route to Portland, Maine, was in heavy fog when it apparently clipped trees just after take-off and crashed at a stable about a half-mile away in Purchase, narrowly missing a home.
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