Wilkes Barre, PA Commuter Plane Crash, May 2000
PENNSYLVANIA CRASH KILLS 19.
COMMUTER PLANE WENT DOWN AFTER APPARENTLY LOSING BOTH ENGINES.
Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (AP) -- A commuter plane carrying 19 people from a gambling trip in Atlantic City, N.J., crashed in a ball of fire after engine problems Sunday as it attempted to land in poor weather. There was no sign of survivors.
Fiery wreckage was spotted in some woods about 9 miles south of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport in northeastern Pennsylvania.
It appeared that both of the chartered turboprop's engines failed, said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Tammy Jones.
The plane missed its first landing approach and crashed on its second attempt, said George Black of the National Transportation Safety Board.
"There is some indication on the air traffic control tapes that they were encountering engine problems during the first approach and those continued into the second attempt," Black said at a news conference in Washington.
Investigators were reviewing a transcript from air traffic controllers who spoke with the crew before the plane crashed.
On a portion of the tape aired by ABC News, one pilot can be heard saying "tell him we lost both engines." The other pilot says: "We lost both engines, six echo Juliet." The plane's cockpit voice recorder was recovered from the crash site, Black said.
The plane, a 1988 BA-31 Jetstream that carried 17 passengers and two crew members, crashed about two miles into the woods in light rain and fog. "Apparently there isn't much left in one piece," said Al Bardar, director for emergency management for Luzerne County. "It doesn't look like anyone survived."
About 50 relatives and friends of the victims gathered at the airport to wait for news.
One man who refused to identify himself said his mother and grandmother were on the plane and had gone with the others to gamble in Atlantic City.
"It was supposed to be an overnight type of deal," he said as he left the airport.
AIrport Superintendent Jim Brunozzi said his niece's mother-in-law and father-in-law were on the plane.
"That was tough to look at the manifest and see the names," he said.
"We were a close family. It's sad."
Anthony J. Giannone, airport ground superintendent, had to console a friend whose wife was on the plane. "He's got two small kids, and he had to leave here to tell them," Giannone said.
"It's a small, close community, and that's what I think makes it so hard," said Lackawanna County Commissioner Randy Castellani, who arrived soon after the crash.
The plane left Atlantic City at about 10:30 a.m. and was scheduled to land in Wilkes-Barre an hour later, said Peter Hartt, spokesman for the South Jersey Transportation Authority, which operates the Atlantic City Airport.
He said the plane was operated by Executive Airlines, which typically runs casino charters, but he did not know who was aboard. Executive Airlines officials declined to comment.
The plane disappeared from radar about 11:40 a.m. during a second instrument approach, typically performed if the visibility is poor or if there is a low cloud deck.
Emergency crews began searching along the planned flight path of the plane as soon as they were notified shortly after 11:30 a.m. that it would not reach the airport, said Luzerne County 911 spokesman Ron Rome. Wreckage was spotted in a wooded area in Bear Creek Township about 12:45 p.m., he said.
Wisconsin State Journal Madison 2000-05-22
List of Fatalities:
Pilot CAM BASAT, Hicksville, N.Y.
Pilot GREGORY MACVICAR, Farmingville, N.Y.
FLORENCE ERHARDT, 73, Honesdale.
DONNA BARBINI CALI, 40, Dunmore.
NANCY MALESKI, 66, Moosic.
ELAINE PILOSI, 46, Old Forge.
JOAN EKUNKLE, 63, Wilkes-Barre.
BOB SUPATOSKI, North Scranton.
LILLIAN SUPATOSKI, his wife, North Scranton.
FRANCES APPEL, Plainstop.
EUGENE DECKER, Dalton.
GERALD DECKER, Fleetville.
SHARON DECKER, Fleetville.
WAYNE FRANTZ, Hawley.
JOAN FUMANTI, Mountaintop.
BERNARD KACHINKO, SR., Larksville.
DIANE SCHWARTZ, Slocum Township.
ANDREA YANCHAUSKY, Exeter.
DOLORES YANCHAUSKY, Exeter.