On Sunday, August 19, 2012, a small, single-engine plane crashed onto a Long Island residential street, just after the pilot managed to pull the nose up in time to avoid a house, explains New York aviation attorney Jonathan C Reiter. The incident, which spurred an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, killed two people and injured a third, in Shirley, Long Island.
According to NTSB investigator Brian Rayner, the plane landed upside down and was destroyed by fire. No one on the ground was injured, and witness reports explained neighbors ran to the scene with fire extinguishers and garden hoses in attempts to put out the fire and try to save those on board.
Flight reports indicated the plane went down shortly after taking off from nearby Brookhaven Calabro Airport. According to witness reports, the nose of the single-engine Socata TB10, also known as a Tobago, climbed over the top of a house before flipping over and hitting a tree and crashing into a construction debris container on the street. A preliminary investigation began the week of August 20, but the final report that explains the cause of the incident could take up to a year, explained Rayner.
Jane Unhjem, 60, of Goshen, New York, died several hours after hospitalization for burns. Her husband, Erik Unhjem, 61, was listed in serious condition Monday at Stony Brook University Medical Center.
The name of the third party was David McElroy, the owner of the plane, relays aviation accident lawyer Jonathan Reiter. The three were on board for a pre-purchase test flight. Both the owner and Mr. Unhjem had valid pilot’s certificates, but it is unknown who was piloting the plane at the time of the fatal crash. Witnesses reported that the plane seemed to struggle to get airborne and used an inordinate amount of runway to do so. It was further reported that the plane flew very close to treetops nearby.
Mr. Reiter explains that although flames destroyed much of the plane’s wings, tail and cabin, the engine was in relatively good shape. The engine would likely be taken to the nearby airport for further examination, while authorities worked on disposing of most the other wreckage.