Small plane crashes on Long Island; 1 dead

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — A small plane carrying three people plummeted into a residential Long Island street with a fiery crash Sunday, killing one of those aboard as neighbors tried to douse the flames with fire extinguishers and garden hoses, authorities and witnesses said.

The single-engine, propeller plane went down around noon in Shirley, shortly after taking off from nearby Brookhaven Calabro Airport, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said.

The front of the plane landed on a tree-lined street flanked with homes — ending up about 100 feet from the nearest house and several hundred from half a dozen others — and its tail plunged into a nearby construction trash bin, said Jeff Litwin, who lives on the street a few hundred feet from the crash on Helene Avenue. He was in his basement when he heard what sounded at first like thunder, but he then heard another explosion, realized it wasn't the weather and went outside.

A neighbor "was trying to put out the fire with a garden hose, but it was too hot and he couldn't get to a person trapped inside," Litwin said by phone.

One person died, and a couple from Goshen, N.Y., Erik Unhjem, 61, and Jane Unhjem, 60, were taken to Stony Brook University Medical Center, Suffolk County police said. They were listed in serious condition with burns, police said.

Authorities did not release the name of the dead man. It was not immediately clear if he was the pilot.

The crash tore down a tree and damaged a car. But no one was hurt on the ground, and the plane didn't damage any homes, Bergen said.

The FAA didn't immediately release the plane's identification number or owner's name, saying those would be disclosed once authorities confirmed the condition of those on the ground.

The National Transportation Safety Board is to investigate the cause of the crash.

The aircraft is a Socata TB10 and is registered to a man in Orlando, Fla., the FAA said. Known as a Tobago, the model is no longer manufactured.

A representative for Socata, part of the Paris-based aerospace and defense company Daher, declined to comment.

The plane was covered up later Sunday as police and firefighters converged on the crash scene and blocked off the road.

With a population of about 26,000, Shirley is near Long Island's southern shore and Fire Island.

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