Shock, horror after plane slams into Akron apartment building – CNN
Jeannie Ferrera said her younger sister was one of those Pebb Enterprises employees. She could not be reached by CNN but told CNN affiliate WEWS that she learned the news from her nephew, who got a call from Pebb on Tuesday night.
“I’m just in shock and in disbelief,” Ferrera said. “And we just want to know what happened. … We want some answers.”
ExecuFlight’s president, Augusto “Danny” Lewkowicz, was similarly “perplexed” and crestfallen about the loss of the two crew members, who’d been flying together at his company for about a year.
“You can’t really prepare for this kind of stuff,” he said. “This is the lottery ticket that nobody wants.”
Big boom, followed by a sound like fireworks
Having set off from Dayton, the Hawker twin-engine, 10-passenger plane was approaching Akron Fulton International Airport when something went wrong, the State Highway Patrol said.
“We do have investigators that are investigating how this crash happened, where the damage is at, how the plane touched down,” said Haymaker from the Highway Patrol.
Scott Ferrell said he could tell something had gone horribly wrong when he heard a plane engine cut out, fire up again, then cut out again.
“And probably a second later, I heard the explosion,” Ferrell told WOIO. “(Then) there were power lives down everywhere. It was pretty chaotic (and) surreal.”
The plane scraped power lines before it went through the apartment building. Video of the aftermath showed a huge fireball engulfing the building — and touching nearby power lines and possibly structures on either side — as black smoke billowed above.
“There were a lot of popping noises, like a lot of fireworks were going off,” Seth Yergin, who captured the fiery scene on video, said to WEWS.
The smoke cleared to reveal the bulk of the plane in an embankment behind the building.
“The fuselage, the passenger compartment, is somewhat intact,” Haymaker said. “… It is heavily burned, and that’s (where) lies the problem.”
Apartment tenant: ‘I lost everything’
While experts from the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board investigate what brought the plane down, firefighters were on site Wednesday starting the recovery process, Akron fire Lt. Sierjie Lash said.
Lewkowicz, from ExecuFlight, said that the aircraft was in good condition and well-maintained, and that both crew members were experienced.
“We don’t know what happened,” he said. “But we know that we will know what happened soon. … Planes generally don’t fall out of the sky.”
Dr. Lisa Kohler, the Summit County medical examiner, told reporters that her office will use its “mass fatality plan,” given the scope of the tragedy. She said victims’ names won’t be released until each person is identified and their families are notified.
“This is a very complex situation,” she said. “And it needs to be done very carefully, and it needs to be documented as well.”
Haymaker, from the State Highway Patrol, said late Tuesday that a top priority is getting the right information out to the loved ones of those on the plane.
Then there is the struggle for those in Akron whose lives have been turned upside down by the crash. They include those who lived in the building hit directly, as well as the occupants of eight apartment units in the two buildings on either side.
The Red Cross has stepped up to offer food, clothing, hotel rooms and other assistance to those affected, like Beth Montgomery, whose home is now just a shell.
“I was just in shock, and I was crying and upset,” she told WEWS of her feelings when she learned about the crash.
“I lost everything.”