Ferndale, MD Cargo Plane Crashes Into Home, Jul 1989


Ferndale, Md. (AP) - A twin-engine plane caught fire shortly after takeoff Wednesday and crashed into a house near Baltimore-Washington International Airport, killing the pilot and a baby in the home and injuring six other residents, authorities said.
The home of HENRY BEAM, 33, and his wife, JANICE, 31, burned to the ground after the Beechcraft 18 cargo plane slammed into it at about 7:20 a.m. They and four of their children suffered minor injuries.
The body of 6-month-old PAUL BEAM was found in the rubble about 10:30 a.m.
Henry Garbrick, director of operations of Center Airlines in Reedsville, Pa., which owned the plane, identified the dead pilot as BENJAMIN S. VITAHRU, of Leroy, N.Y.
Barry Majerewicz, 28, a neighbor, said neighbors had to restrain BEAM from returning to the burning house to try to save his son.
"People were standing around because they couldn't get in to help," said another neighbor, who identified herself only as Ellen. "I saw the mother and father come out of the side of the house by the kitchen, and she laid out on the side of the house screaming, 'My babies! My babies!'"
"I heard this spitting and sputtering and a big bang," said William Shelton, another neighbor.
"I looked out the window and the house across the street was totally engulfed in flames. I ran out and there was nothing anybody could do to get inside the house. It was totally involved."
Duncan Pardue, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration in New York, said the plane took off from Baltimore-Washington International Airport, bound for Winchester, Va. Two minutes later, the pilot declared an emergency, saying the plane was on fire and that he was returning to the airport.
Moments later, the plane crashed into the house, about one miles from the airport, and burst into flames, Pardue said.
Phil Farney, a witness, said he saw flames shooting from the cockpit moments before the crash and saw two adults and several children running from the house.
Only one corner of a brick fireplace remained standing in the one-story house, in a subdivision two blocks from a major state highway that borders the airport. Thick, white smoke still poured from the blackened rubble two hours after the crash.
Ferndale borders BWI Airport midway between Baltimore and Annapolis, Md.
North Arundel Hospital spokesman Alison Tavik said BEAM, 33; his wife, 31; sons HENRY V., JOSHUA and BENJAMIN; and daughter DANA suffered minor burns and abrasions and were expected to be released later in the day. The children range in age from 2 to 9.
Officials from the NTSB and the FAA were at the scene. The FAA said the plane was carrying cargo for United Parcel Service.
"Everybody here is pretty shaken up," Shelton said. "I saw no evidence of the plane when I ran across the street. I think the plane is probably inside the house." He said the BEAMS had only recently move in.
"We've had a running fight with the airport to get the runways changed. We know we're up against the big boys," said Bonnie Thurston, 48, who lives five doors down from the house.
The two houses on either side suffered only minor damage.

Gettysburg Times Pennsylvania 1989-07-20