Pequannock, NJ Private Plane Crashes Into Home, Jan 1984


Pequannock, N.J. (AP) - A small airplane returning to an airport because of engine trouble clipped a tree and a house and crashed yesterday, killing all four people aboard but injuring no one in the house.
The pilot of the twin-engine Cessna 310 had radioed a report of engine trouble shortly after taking off from the Lincoln Park Airport and apparently was attempting to return to the field said Mike Maloney, an airport spokesman.
The pilot was identified as RICHARD COHEN, of Manhattan, said Claire Unger, a spokeswoman for Chilton Memorial Hospital. His passengers were three sisters from Dolgeville, N.Y., she said. The woman's names and all the victims' ages were not released.
The crash occurred about a mile short of the runway, near the border of Pequannock and Lincoln Park in northern New Jersey.
Stephen Van Sant, 28, his wife, Joni, 25, their 4-year-old daughter and 6-month-old son and Van Sant's brother were in the house when the plane crashed at 1:30 p.m. but escaped injury.
"I heard a loud roar like a plane engine," said Van Sant. "As soon as I heard it, I knew a plane was going to come down somewhere. It was very close."
The family, just returned from a shopping trip, was in a room on the side of the house where the crash occurred, Van Sant said. Three other family members were not at home.
The plane hit a row of trees and clipped the roof of the house and came to rest in the front yard, said Pequannock police dispatcher Marion Greendyke.
"The next thing I did was grab my wife and family and we ran out because almost instantaneously we smelled gas," Van Sant said.
The plane hit a 30-foot fir tree next to the house, shearing off the top of the tree and the plane's right wing. Van Sant said that apparently kept the plane from crashing full force into the house.
"If the tree wasn't there, I wouldn't be standing here right now," said Van Sant.
Wreckage, including two seats from the plane, littered the front yard. Both wings were sheared off the plane, and the bulk of the fuselage was about 3 feet from the house.
A 3-square-foot section of the roof was damaged, with the shingles and gutters pulled away. A hole was knocked in the first floor wall and a window was shattered.
"The plane apparently developed engine trouble," said police Sgt. Doug Harper. "It was turning, apparently making a left turn and heading back to the airport."
The NTSB was called in to investigate.
Van Sant said his mother, father and younger brother who live at the house but were not home at the time of the crash. He said his mother, Lorraine, 50, became
"hysterical" when she returned to find the wreckage, and was treated by a doctor.

Pantagraph Bloomington Illinois 1984-01-23