The small plane that crashed in East Haven, CT yesterday and nearly demolished two houses may have claimed as many as six lives, officials say, including those of the pilot, his son, and two children inside one of the homes.
News outlets have identified the pilot as Bill Henningsgaard, 54, a resident of Medina, Washington and a former executive at Microsoft. Henningsgaard and his son Maxwell Henningsgaard, 17, were reportedly touring colleges on the East Coast this week; officials found the body of the pilot yesterday, and both father and son are believed to have perished in the crash.
In addition to the Henningsgaards, authorities say a third person may have been onboard the plane, and two to three people inside one of the two houses hit by the plane are likely dead. A 13-year-old child and a 1-year-old child inside one of the homes have not yet been accounted for, and officials say they have recovered a child's body. The children's mother was also at home at the time of the crash, but escaped; East Haven's mayor, Joseph Maturo, says she has been with a priest since the crash. "It's total devastation in the back of the home," he told Fox News.
The small plane had flown out of Teterboro Airport in New Jersey and was approaching Tweed New Haven at 11:25 a.m. yesterday when it crashed on Charter Oak Avenue. "All we know is that it missed the approach and continued on. There were no distress calls as far as we know," Lori Hoffman-Soares, Tweed's airport manager, told Fox News. Neighbors say they heard the plane's engine stop before it came down. "It just didn't sound right," Robert Mallory, an airplane mechanic who lives near the site of the crash, told the Courant. "It sounded like someone stuck a stick in a lawn mower. It just stopped." He drove over to the site of the impact, where the mother of the missing children was standing outside. "The woman was screaming about her children," he said. "They didn't get out."
Friends and colleagues had kind words about Henningsgaard, a member of the Seattle-based community-building foundation Social Venture Partners. "There are hundreds of people that have a story about Bill—when he went the extra mile, when he knew just the right thing to say, how he would never give up," a statement on the foundation's website read. "He was truly all-in for this community, heart, mind and soul." Officials say a vigil for all the victims will be held in East Haven this evening.