Mother and daughter were on sightseeing tour before plane crashed on Long Island

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, March 7, 2023
Mother, daughter on sightseeing tour before LI plane crash
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The two passengers were a 63-year-old mother and 33-year-old daughter who bought tickets for the tour through Groupon.

NORTH LINDENHURST, Long Island (WABC) -- One person was killed and two others were injured after a small plane crashed into a neighborhood on Long Island Sunday afternoon.

The plane crashed near 5th Street and North Wellwood Avenue in Lindenhurst while approaching Republic Airport in Farmingdale.

The FAA says there were three people on board the privately-owned single-engine Piper PA 28. No one on the ground was injured.

The FAA says the plane took off from Republic Airport for a sightseeing tour.

A short time later, the pilot, identified as 23-year-old Fayzul Chowdhury issued a mayday signal and said there was smoke in the cockpit.

The aircraft then turned back toward the airport to make an emergency landing but crashed -- approximately 300 feet south of nearby LIRR tracks.

"The aircraft is completely destroyed and it's on fire. I can see people running. I think they're trying to help them out," said a pilot on the ATC radio recording.

The 23-year-old pilot is a license-led and certified flight instructor from the Bronx, according to an attorney for a flight school at Republic Airport.

He suffered burns to 75% of his body.

The two passengers were a 63-year-old mother, identified as Roma Gupta of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, and her 33-year-old daughter Reeva Gupta who bought tickets for the tour through Groupon.

The attorney said the plane recently went through a 100-hour inspection.

Roma Gupta was pronounced dead at the scene. Reeva Gupta and Chowdhury were transported via helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital, where they remain in critical condition.

Eyewitness News spoke with neighbor Chris Baldassano, who took a video of his block after the crash.

He said the crash happened so close to his home that he not only heard the crash but actually felt the impact inside his house.

"I ran to the front of the house, saw fireball and plume of smoke,' Baldassano said. "Ran outside, made sure everybody down the block were out of houses."

Baldassano believes the plane clipped the tree line that borders the train tracks before crashing.

There was debris everywhere from the plane and the smoke was so thick that it was hard to see. One home is still taped off because there are plane parts littered in the backyard.

Neighbors say planes come so close to their homes they've had concerned one could crash into houses.

And they say lately the planes are getting bigger and flying lower.

Kellie Watson said the planes fly so low on their approach to the airport that it shakes her home.

"It was just two explosions that we heard," Watson said. "The house just shook. Yeah the house shook it was pretty bad and we're just like what was that and we looked out the window and after one explosion and then I yelled for my husband and then before we knew it, he didn't even make it to the living room, another big explosion."

When she stepped out of her home after the crash she said she could hear one of the victims frantically screaming for her mother.

The pilot was alert and conscious when first responders arrived and was able to tell them how many people were on board.

"To my knowledge, they were pulled from the plane by a civilian," North Lindenhurst Fire Chief Kenney Stallone said. "I don't know how many or who but they were pulled from the plane by a civilian."

The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating what could have caused the crash.

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