The pilot of a twin-engine plane that crashed into a residential neighborhood in Woodbridge on Tuesday remains missing as firefighters continue to battle the blaze and get closer to the crash scene, officials said.
“The plane is in the back of the house,” Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac said at a press briefing shortly before 12:30 p.m. ” You can’t see the plane from the street. It’s still apparently lodged in the house. The lady next door got out safely.”
No one was home at the house that took the brunt of the crash and no injuries on the ground have been reported, McCormac said. It is believed the pilot was the only person on board the Cessna 414, which had originated in Virginia.
“Right now, we don’t believe any civilians on the ground were impacted by the crash,” McCormac said. “Although the pilot — who knows. Nobody knows for sure yet. Nobody’s gotten close to the plane. Miracles can happen.”
The 11 a.m. crash set multiple houses ablaze on Berkley Avenue in the Colonia section of the town, authorities said.
Flight records showed a Cessna 414A departed from Leesburg Executive Airport in Virginia at 9:50 a.m. and was bound for Linden Airport with an expected landing at 10:58 a.m. That plane was manufactured in 1980 and owned by a Delaware-based company called Warbird Associates, according to the FAA. The crash site is about 4 miles from Linden Airport.
Witnesses described what sounded like an explosion or a car crash.
Jerry Bartolino, 61, who lives about three houses down from the crash site, said he heard the sound of the plane plunging out of the sky. Then someone screamed “oh my god” and his house shook. Flames up to 40 feet high were visible when he emerged from his home near the crash.
“I don’t even know how my house is. It really makes you scared about life in general,” Bartolino said.
Marie Westervelt, 52, told her husband that a tree might have hit their home on Warwick Road when her rattled the windows and house shook.
“No, that was an explosion,” Bill Westervelt, 53, replied. The couple stepped outside, joining others watching the growing blaze.
Down the road, Steven Agranovich, 46, or Jersey City, was painting the inside of a house when he heard the same impact. He could see two houses on fire, he said. Video he shot on his phone showed flames arcing up to the treetops.
The FAA is headed to the scene to begin the investigation.
An elementary school near the crash, the Claremont School, sent students home on early dismissal, parents said on Facebook. All kids were safe at the school, which had no power after PSE&G cut power to more than 400 homes and businesses.
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