EAST PATCHOGUE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A pilot radioed for help Tuesday just before his small plane crashed into the yard of a Long Island home and burst into flames, killing him.
“I need your help, sir,” the pilot, identified by police as Hanan Shoshany, said in an air traffic control recording archived on the website LiveATC.net. “Heading to Islip. I don’t have visibility.”
“Are you declaring an emergency?” a controller responded.
Moments later, after Shoshany radioed that he would return to the airport from which he took off, the plane crashed between two houses on a tree-lined street in East Patchogue.
Brookhaven town spokesman Kevin Molloy said a mother and infant were inside one of the homes at the time of the crash, which happened around 9 a.m.
He said there was shattered glass in the baby’s room and the exterior of the house was damaged by the fire, but no one on the ground was hurt.
“This is an action I was expecting for Hanan,” Yaron Cohen, a Shoshany family friend, told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan. “He was a great person in life. And last moment, he tried to save other people’s lives.”
Photos from the scene posted on social media showed flames and smoke from the wreckage billowing next to a backyard play set.
“I looked around and I saw the black smoke come up and then another explosion,” neighbor Bill Hughes said. “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.”
“All of a sudden, I heard what sounded like a plane coming down,” said neighbor Chad Whidman. “It was really, really loud, and then there was a pause and then there was a loud boom and then another loud boom.”
Investigators said Shoshany apparently did his best to avoid hitting houses as the plane went down. Despite clipping trees, he managed to steer his Cessna 400 aircraft for the space between the two homes, but lost his own life in the process.
“It’s very, very fortunate that he traveled in the path that he did,” Detective Lt. Kevin Beyrer. “Because of that, no one was hurt in any of the houses.”
Allison Diaz with the National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday investigators will look into factors such as Shoshany’s training, experience and medical history, the airplane’s maintenance records, weather and air-traffic control communications.
Shoshany, a member of a flying club, was the only person aboard the plane. He took off from Republic Airport in Farmingdale and, before deciding to turn back, was scheduled to land at MacArthur Airport about 20 miles away. Friends say he was going to have his communication headset repaired.
The 53-year-old was supposed to host a graduation celebration for his daughter Tuesday night.
Shoshany’s body was being flown Wednesday to his native Israel for burial, McLogan reported. More than a dozen relatives boarded a plane at John F. Kennedy International Airport bound for Tel Aviv.
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 takeoff and crashed at a stable about a half-mile away in Purchase, narrowly missing a home.
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