Two survive plane crash in New Jersey

August 21, 2009 9:59:49 PM PDT
Two people survived a small plane crash near Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. The plane crashed near Route 46 and Industrial Drive, just after 3 a.m.

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It exploded in flames on impact.

  • SLIDESHOW Photos from small plane crash.

    Two people on the plane were pulled from the wreckage with serious burns.

    Both men were taken to St. Barnabas Medical Center. The pilot, identified as George Maddox, 54, of Sinking Springs, Pa., was listed in critical condition. Co-pilot Sanil Gopinath, 42, of Laurel, Md., was listed in serious condition.

    A bartender waiting at a traffic light heard the crash and saw a flash of light over his shoulder, Little Ferry Police Lieutenant Frank Novak said. The man ran to help and came upon the burning plane and two men.

    "He heard the two guys saying, 'We're here, We're here,"' Novak said of the bartender. "He said he told them, 'I know you are, but I'm looking for the guys on the plane.' They said, 'We are the guys from the plane."'

    Little Ferry police officer Adam Warne, who was among the first to respond to the scene, said he was taken aback to find the men alive and talking after the crash.

    "They were sitting at the curb at the bus stop. Both of them were alert and conscious and answering questions," Warne said.

    Warne said one man was "severely burned."

    "The one who had more burns sat there and was in a daze," he said. "I saw the wreckage, they both said 'We were in the plane.' I was a little taken back, you know."

    The plane was carrying blood specimens for Quest Diagnostics, which is just down the street from the airport, when it crashed while trying to land, police said.

    The twin-engine Beechcraft was believed to have originated in Reading, Pa.

    The blackened remains of the plane were barely discernible from the side of Route 46.

    According to National Transportation Safety Board investigator Robert Gretz, the plane was cleared to land on Runway 1 of the airport's two runways. But the pilot aborted the landing to try a so-called "go-around." He was able to gain some altitude and was crossing Route 46 when he hit a tree and crashed.

    The plane landed upright and burst into flames, but the pilots were able to crawl out on their own.

    Authorties were unclear whether the plane ever touch down on the runway and why a go-around was needed.

    There was no distress call from the pilots, whom are expetced to survive, he said.

    NTSB will issue a preliminary report in five days.

    Teterboro is the same airport where a plane took off earlier this month before colliding with a sightseeing helicopter over the Hudson River. Nine people were killed aboard the two aircraft.

    In 2005, a corporate jet went off the runway at Teterboro, crashed through a fence and crossed a highway before smashing into a warehouse. Twenty people were injured.

    A report released by the Government Accountability Office last year found that Teterboro had 23 runway incursions - incidents in which aircraft strayed into areas designated for takeoffs and landings - from fiscal 2001 through 2007, two fewer than nearby Newark Liberty International Airport, which handles about three times as many flights annually. Three of the Teterboro incursions were classified as serious, meaning there was a risk of planes colliding, more than occurred at major airports in Philadelphia, Boston and Miami over the same period.

    (The Associated Press contributed to this story)