EAST PATCHOGUE, Long Island (PIX11/AP) – At least one person has died after a small plane crashed in a Long Island neighborhood Tuesday morning, according to officials in Suffolk County.
An explosion and fire were reported about 9 a.m. after a small plane crashed into the backyard of a home on Chamille Lane in East Patchogue, police said. The pilot, 53-year-old Hanan Shoshany, of Jamaica, died at the scene.
Moments before the crash, Shoshany told an air traffic controller, “I need your help, sir.”
The controller asked if the pilot was declaring an emergency. Part of the pilot’s response is garbled, but he said he’s decided to return to the airport from which he departed.
“I thought it was World War III,” said 16-year-old Hailley O’Neill, whose backyard sits behind the crash site. “I screamed. I was calling my mom saying, ‘Oh my God mom, what happened?'”
Then crash ignited a fire that sent thick, black smoke billowing into the air.
Firefighters from several departments including Hagerman, North Patchogue, Brookhaven responded to the scene to put out the blaze.
The deadly crash prompted the evacuation of homes within a two-block radius of the burning wreckage.
“The explosion rocked the house,” said next-door neighbor John Scileppi, who ran into the backyard after the crash. The scene left him at a “total loss of words.”
It does not appear that anyone else was hurt in the crash. There’s no word yet about what caused the plane to go down.
The single-engine aircraft took off from the Republic Airport in East Farmingdale at 8:50 a.m., according to officials.
Police, the FAA and the NTSB are still investigating.