What caused plane crash in New Jersey?

December 22, 2008 2:57:21 AM PST
Investigators are checking to see if weather or mechanical problems caused a small plane to crash in New Jersey Sunday night, leaving a husband and wife critically injured.The plane went down just before 5 p.m. near Linden Avenue and Pleasant Street, an industrial area near Linden Airport.

Witnesses said they saw the Beechcraft Sundowner Model 23 flying low before it slammed into a cluster of trees in a railroad right of way near Linden Avenue, which is not far from the small general aviation airport along Routes 1 & 9.

Linden Mayor Richard Gerbounka said the husband and wife were able to crawl out of the burning plane. He said he was contacted by firefighters who were able to see the plane, which took off from Linden Airport, circling very low to the ground.

"When the plane crashed, it caught fire," he said. "Three-quarters of the plane is burned. The only section of the plane that is recognizable is the tail section."

The plane went down near the Merck Property, which is a few hundred feet away from the airport.

Authorities said the victims - Jason Snyder, 33, who was piloting the plane, and his 34-year-old wife, Jennifer Snyder - were conscious when they were found lying next to the single-engine plane. They were later flown by helicopter to University Hospital in Newark, where they were listed in critical condition late Sunday night.

However, officials said both were expected to recover from their injuries. The couple lives in Hampton, Virginia.

Gerbounka said the plane had been delayed for two days because of the weather, and that the couple was told to leave the airport at their own risk Sunday.

Alison Duquette, a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman, said the pilot had reported mechanical problems shortly before the crash occurred, but said the cause of the accident remained under investigation.

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