EAST PATCHOGUE, N.Y. (AP) — A pilot radioed for help Tuesday just before his small plane crashed into the yard of a Long Island home and burst into flames, killing him.
“I need your help, sir,” the pilot, identified by police as Hanan Shoshany, said in an air traffic control recording archived on the website LiveATC.net.
“Are you declaring an emergency?” a controller responded.
Moments later, after Shoshany radioed that he would return to the airport from which he took off, the plane crashed between two houses on a tree-lined street in East Patchogue.
A mother and infant inside one of the homes were not injured, Brookhaven Town spokesman Kevin Molloy said. The house had exterior damage from a fire caused by the crash, which occurred shortly after 9 a.m.
“The mother heard the explosion. There was shattered glass in the baby’s room. Neither was injured. She removed the baby and left the house,” Molloy said.
The plane’s pulverized wreckage lay scattered next to a backyard play set after the crash.
“All of a sudden I heard what sounded like a plane coming down,” said a neighbor, Chad Whidman. “It was really, really loud and then there was a pause and then there was a loud boom and then another loud boom.”
Whidman said he believes the pilot was aiming for the space between the two homes to avoid hitting them. Suffolk County police later identified him as Shoshany, 53, of Jamaica, Queens. He was the only person aboard the plane.
Another neighbor, Bill Hughes, described a horrific crash scene.
“I looked and I saw the black smoke coming up. ... We all ran down there. The whole backyard was just an inferno. ... It was in flames. You couldn’t get near it,” he said.
“Luckily it went between both houses. The plane actually came through. You can see where it sheared the trees,” said Hughes, adding that the he heard the engine “rumbling” before the plane crashed.
A person who answered the phone at Shoshany’s home on Tuesday evening declined to comment.
The crash came four days after another small plane narrowly missed a house when it crashed north of New York City, in Purchase, New York, after taking off from the Westchester County Airport. Richard Rockefeller, the great-grandson of Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller, was killed.
Detective Lt. Kevin Beyrer of the Suffolk County police said the plane involved in Tuesday’s crash was headed east but was traveling southwest when it went down. He said the National Transportation Safety Board would have to determine why the aircraft was traveling southwest.
“It’s very, very fortunate that he traveled in the path that he did,” Beyrer said. “Because of that no one was hurt in any of the houses.”
A two-block radius was evacuated as a precaution.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the aircraft was a single-engine Lancair Columbia propeller plane. It was built in 2006 and was registered to Shoshany’s address.
Shoshany took off from Republic Airport in Farmingdale and, before deciding to turn back, was scheduled to land at MacArthur Airport in Islip, about 20 miles away.