1 dead in plane crash near city airport

1 dead in plane crash near city airport

WALLINGFORD — Police say a Cheshire man was killed and his son was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries after a small plane crashed Monday evening on the road next to Meriden-Markham Airport.

The crash was reported at about 6:28 p.m. on Hanover Street in Wallingford near the Meriden border. Hanover Street becomes Evansville Avenue in Meriden.

Deputy Police Chief Marc Mikulski said Joseph Tomanelli, 56, of Cheshire, was killed. His son, David, was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital. David Tomanelli, 21, also of Cheshire, is expected to survive, Mikulski said. He was found conscious and alert a few yards from the wreckage.

The plane was attempting to land at the time of the crash, Mikulski said.

Joseph Tomanelli registered the plane, a 1971 Piper PA-28-180, in 2006, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. He transferred the registration to Harvey Gilman Aircraft Sales in Middletown, Ohio, on April 3. According to FAA records, the fixed-wing single-engine plan can seat four.

Police planned to remain at the scene through the night. The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration are investigating, according to Mikulski. Officials from the Connecticut Airport Authority were also on the scene investigating. Evansville Avenue in Meriden and Hanover Street in Wallingford are expected to remain closed until the investigation is complete.

The municipal airport is located nearby at 213 Evansville Ave. in Meriden. The airport remains open.

The plane was initially on fire after the crash. Crews extinguished the flames by 6:40 p.m.

Dispatchers received several reports of thick black smoke coming from the area immediately after the crash. Police responded to close roads in the area. Meriden fire crews responded initially but command of the scene was turned over to Wallingford because the crash occurred in the town’s jurisdiction.

Fallon Wagner, who lives on Chimney Hill Road in Wallingford, said she was driving in the area when she saw the plane circling above. The plane abruptly turned, Wagner said, and then flew in the direction it was originally coming from.

“I actually said aloud to myself, ‘Something is not right, that plane is going to crash,’ ” Wagner said. Wagner then entered a store and came back out to see dark smoke in the air.

“I knew immediately what must have happened,” Wagner said. “My heart breaks for the victims. So scary.”

Joy Heavens, who lives on nearby Baker Avenue, said she was surprised by a very loud noise.

“I heard something, it sounded like a big boom,” she said. “I’ve been here for 21 years and I’ve never heard something like that. We have planes always going over the house. It was scary.”

Wagner, a teacher at Lincoln Middle School, said she drives on Evansville Avenue every day to get to work.

“I’ve lived next to the airport for seven years and my biggest fear has always been a plane crash,” Wagner said.

Jennifer Kapustinski, of nearby Douglas Drive, also said she heard a boom “followed by a ton of sirens.”

“I went outside and there was black smoke pouring into the sky,” she said.

Cutlery Avenue resident Matthew Ehmka said he was driving with his daughter “and we saw the smoke and thought it was my house because we live on the flight path.”

“I think really with all the increased traffic it’s more prone to happen,” he said.

“Very sad,” said Mary Ann Ellison, who lives on Charles Street. “I’ve been here over 30 years and this is the first I’ve ever known of any accident.”

There have been three small plane crashes in the state in the last seven months — in East Windsor, East Haven and East Hartford.

Two people were killed after a plane crashed shortly after taking off from privately owned Skylark Airport in East Windsor on April 18.

In the East Hartford crash on Oct. 11, a small plane crashed after the two men inside had an altercation. One of the men was a flight instructor who survived. The student was killed.

One man was killed after a small plane that had just taken off from Tweed New Haven Airport crashed in East Haven on Feb. 22. Another man survived.


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