Small plane crash lands in mall parking lot

August 25, 2009 5:58:18 PM PDT
A small plane made an emergency landing in the parking lot of the Rockaway Townsquare Mall in New Jersey Tuesday.The plane, a single-engine Cessna, landed on its nose between the mall's JC Penney store and the Toys R Us store.

The plane's occupants were a flying instructor and a student who were taken to a hospital as a precaution, local police said.

The single-engine Cessna 172 had recently taken off from nearby Essex County Airport in Caldwell when the pilot reported a rough-running engine, said Arlene Salac, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The plane landed shortly after noon on a road leading to the parking lot of the Rockaway Townsquare mall in Rockaway Township. It ended up in a parking area near the entrance to a J.C. Penney department store.

"It landed somewhere on the outer perimeter road to the mall. It was nowhere close to the building or cars," said mall spokesman Kevin Ryan.

It's the second time a plane has used the parking lot as a runway. In 1996, two people suffered minor injuries when their single-engine plane ran out of fuel and was forced to land there.

The plane experienced an engine failure that forced the pilot to put it down. It struck several trees before reaching the parking lot, where it lost a wheel, spun around and landed on its nose.

Annmarie Hebbelinck, 40, was back-to-school shopping with her young children when they noticed the plane circling low overhead before coming down for a hard landing.

"We thought it was too low," she said. "We watched it circle; then it crashed into the ground, and we were in shock."

No one on the ground appeared to be injured. The plane landed in an area of the parking lot with no cars.

Emergency officials poured foam on the plane to minimize the chance of a fire igniting.

The plane is registered to Genesis One Inc. in Paramus.

The landing marks the third accident involving small planes in New Jersey this month.


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