EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (CBS Connecticut and AP) — The National Transportation Safety Board says, in its initial investigation, Tuesday’s crash of a small plane on Main Street in East Hartford was an intentional act. The agency says the FBI will now take the lead in the probe.
East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc told The Associated Press that the badly burned survivor told authorities the crash that killed one person Tuesday was not an accident, but she cautioned that investigators have not confirmed that information.
“It’s troubling,” Leclerc said. “But I also know that stories change and information can be skewed. We’re waiting for the facts to come out.”
Authorities said a student pilot and an instructor were trying to land the Piper PA-34 Seneca at Brainard Airport in Hartford when it struck a utility pole in East Hartford and crashed onto the road at around 4 p.m., bursting into flames. The crash site is a short distance from the airport, across the Connecticut River and in line with the runway.
The plane had two sets of controls, East Hartford police Lt. Joshua Litwin told reporters Wednesday. He said he didn’t know which person aboard was controlling the plane when it crashed. It also wasn’t immediately clear whether the student or the instructor was the survivor.
The police chief in East Hartford asked the FBI to assist in the investigation because it happened so close to Pratt & Whitney.
“The path that the plane took could have been much worse. So we’re very fortunate in that sense,” Chief Scott Sansom said.
Pratt & Whitney said its operations weren’t affected by the crash and none of its employees was involved.
Police say the survivor is hospitalized with serious burns and is expected to live. The other person remained in the wreckage and was presumed dead. Police haven’t released their names.
Two people in a minivan that came close to colliding with the plane were taken to a hospital with minor injuries.
In Hartford, local, state and federal authorities were investigating an apartment in connection with the plane crash, Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley said. He did not release more details, including why the apartment was being investigated.
“The scene is safe and secure,” Foley said. “We want to assure our residents they are not in danger.”
Authorities urged people to avoid the crash site as investigators continued their work.
“This is a very complex investigation with a lot of different agencies and a lot of different moving parts,” fire Chief John Oates said.
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