EAST HAVEN, Conn. —Four bodies have been pulled from the site of where a small plane crashed into two homes, a fire official said today.
Anthony Moscato, deputy chief of the East Haven Fire Department, said the bodies of two people from the plane and two people in one of the homes were recovered overnight. He said authorities now believe those were the only victims; they had previously said as many as six people could have been killed.
A family member identified two of the dead as former Microsoft executive Bill Henningsgaard and his teenage son, Maxwell, who were in the plane and traveling the East Coast to visit colleges.
Authorities previously said that two children in a home were missing. They were ages 1 and 13.
Just before noon Friday, the multi-engine, propeller-driven plane struck two small homes near Tweed New Haven Airport. The aircraft’s left wing lodged in one house and its right wing in the other.
The family learned it was Bill Henningsgaard’s plane through the tail number, said his brother, Blair Henninsgaard, the city attorney in Astoria, Ore.
It wasn’t his first crash. Three years ago, Henningsgaard crash-landed his plane on Washington’s Columbia River, and he and his 84-year-old mother were rescued by a passing boat as the plane began to sink.
Henningsgaard was a member of Seattle-based Social Venture Partners, a foundation that helps build up communities. The foundation extended its condolences to his wife and two daughters.
“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. He was truly all-in for this community, heart, mind and soul,” the foundation wrote Friday in a post on its website.
Hours after the crash, Gov. Dannel Malloy said rescuers had spotted two bodies, including one of an adult, but hadn’t recovered them. The plane’s fuselage had entered one of the houses, and the recovery effort was focusing on the home’s basement, he said.
Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. said later that the houses were still unstable and crews had not completed a full search.
The 10-seater plane, a Rockwell International Turbo Commander 690B, flew out of Teterboro Airport in New Jersey and crashed at 11:25 a.m., the Federal Aviation Administration said.
Tweed’s airport manager, Lori Hoffman-Soares, said the pilot had been in communication with air traffic control and hadn’t issued any distress calls.
“All we know is that it missed the approach and continued on,” she said.
A neighbor, David Esposito, said he heard a loud noise and then a thump: “No engine noise, nothing.”
“A woman was screaming her kids were in there,” he said.
Esposito, a retired teacher, said he ran into the upstairs of the house, where the woman believed her children were, but couldn’t find them after frantically searching a crib and closets. He returned downstairs to search some more, but he dragged the woman out when the flames became too strong.
In April 2009, Henningsgaard was flying a small plane from Astoria to Seattle when the engine quit and he tried to glide back to the airport. As he wrote 10 days later on a blog post, the plane crashed into the Columbia River after a harrowing five-minute descent. He and his mother, a former Astoria mayor, climbed out on a wing and were rescued.
He spent 14 years at Microsoft in various marketing and sales positions, according to his biography on Social Venture Partners website. He was a longtime board member at Youth Eastside Services, a Bellevue, Wash.-based agency that provides counseling and substance-abuse treatment, and led the organization’s $10.7 million fundraising campaign for its new headquarters, which opened in 2008.
A vigil for the victims of the crash is planned for tonight at Margaret Tucker Park.