A small single-engine plane crashed in a residential area of East Patchogue minutes after takeoff Tuesday morning, killing the 53-year-ols pilot, who was flying alone, officials said.
The Columbia Lancair LC 41 aircraft crashed between two houses on Camille Lane near Knot Street shortly after 9 a.m., officials said. Witnesses said the plane engine was sputtering and banked before landing upside down in the backyard of 51 Camille Lane, which caught fire when the plane exploded. The pilot was identified as Hanan Shoshany, of Jamaica, Queens.
“It was very, very fortunate that he traveled in the path that he did,” Det. Lt. Kevin Beyrer, commander of the Homicide Squad, told reporters at the scene, noting that three people–including one child–were inside the house that caught fire at the time.
The plane took off from Republic Airport in East Farmingdale at 8:50 a.m. and was destined for Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, which responded to the scene.
It’s currently unclear what caused the crash or why the plane reversed course from eastbound to heading southwest in the final moments before the crash.
Officials said building inspectors are checking the impacted houses for structural integrity.
“This is going to be a very traumatic experience for someone, even if they survived,” said Craig Cooper, a spokesman for the American Red Cross, which is offering mental health counseling to neighbors–some of whom were evacuated–and assisting first responders.
Hagerman Fire Department firefighters extinguished the flames. The National Transportation Safety Board will continue the investigation to determine the cause of the crash. They will have plenty of witness accounts to sort through.
“I heard the extremely low flying plane…and not even 10 seconds later I heard a huge explosion,” said Tim Carney, an 18-year-old college student who was awakened when the aircraft buzzed his house. “It sounded like a sonic boom.”