Fatal N.J. Air Crash Probed; Death Toll Hits Six
Three more bodies were recovered Monday, raising the death toll in an air collision between two planes to six, as investigators inventoried wreckage strewn over 20 blocks and impounded air traffic control recordings to determine why the planes collided.
The body of the sixth person killed was believed to be that of a man who had been in his apartment when a burning corporate jet slammed into two buildings here Sunday evening, igniting a fire that also engulfed three other buildings.
Fourteen people were in the two buildings, and “13 had time to escape,” said state police Capt. Joseph Craparotta.
“I was listening to the stereo, and the next thing I knew, my windows blew in. In three seconds, I was out the door,” said Joseph Gramuglia, 29, whose apartment was gutted. “Red flames . . . all red flames. There were people all over the place.”
The other two bodies recovered Monday were found in rubble and were believed to be those of the pilot and co-pilot of the jet, which was owned by Nabisco Brands Inc., said police Sgt. Eugene Handschin.
He said a positive identification had not been made on the bodies, but, “We think it’s got to be the pilots.”
Three bodies were found Sunday in the debris of a light propeller plane that struck the front porch of a two-story apartment building about five blocks away in Fairview. Each piece of wreckage was to be “itemized and tagged” as part of the reconstruction of the crash, said National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Ira J. Furman.
The jet’s pilot had said he saw the Piper Cherokee, and the pilot of the smaller plane said he was clear of the area where the Falcon 50 jet was supposed to be as they flew over the densely populated suburbs across the Hudson River from Manhattan, FAA spokesman Peter Nelson said.
The jet’s pilot, Capt. Gregory Miller, 36, of Danbury, Conn., had logged 9,000 flight hours in years of corporate flying, Nabisco spokeswoman Caroline Fee said. His co-pilot, Allen Stitt, 30, of Highlands, had 4,350 flight hours.