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5 Dead in Small Plane Crash on NJ Highway

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Five people died when a small plane headed for Georgia crashed on one of the New York City area's busiest highways.

The New York investment banking firm Greenhill & Co. said two of its managing directors, Jeffrey Buckalew, 45, and Rakesh Chawla, 36, as well as Buckalew's wife and two children, were on the plane that crashed on Interstate 287.

Buckalew was the registered owner of the single-engine plane and had a pilot's license.

Investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board say the pilot of a plane  talked with an air traffic controller about icing shortly beforehand.

NTSB Senior Air Safety Investigator Bob Gretz did not hear the seven second conversation himself, but said 14 minutes into the flight "I've been told from the FAA is that the airplane was about 17,500 feet, and there was a conversation between the pilot and the controller about icing."

Wreckage was scattered over at least a half-mile-wide area, with a section found lodged in a tree of a home about a quarter-mile away, near a highway entrance ramp.

Witnesses told the FAA the single-engine appeared to break up as it spiraled into the wooden median strip and exploded on Interstate 287 in Harding, N.J.

There were no injuries on the ground. A south-bound truck had just missed the plane.

FAA spokesman Jim Peters says the plane had taken off from Teterboro Airport and was headed for DeKalb Peachtree Airport near Atlanta.

The plane, a six-seater high performance turbo prop, did not have a black box. The NTSB will be looking into weather and radar data, as well as repair information. A preliminary report on the crash is expected within five to 10 days.

With the Associated Press

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