2 hurt, investigation underway into Camden County plane crash

Christie Ileto Image
Thursday, October 20, 2016

LINDENWOLD, N.J. (WPVI) -- Investigators will return to a Camden County neighborhood Thursday after a small plane crash that left two men hospitalized and residents shaking their heads in disbelief.

The plane went down at 12:47 p.m. Wednesday on the 500 block of East Linden Avenue in Lindenwold.

"It sounded like a trash truck. You know how like when a trash truck goes, 'pew, pew, pew,' " said Carol Saler of Lindenwold.

Angelo Grizzoli saw the plane flying too low, seconds before impact.

"All of a sudden I hear 'Boom!', and it goes over my roof," said Grizzoli.

Officials say the plane split in two upon impact, with the cockpit ending upside down.

The FAA says the plane, an Ercoupe 415-C aircraft, originated from the Flying W Airport in Medford.

County officials tell Action News two adult men were on board the plane.

Police say a 66-year-old pilot and his 72-year-old passenger were trapped upside down for about 20 minutes in the mangled aircraft that landed in Doretha Williams' backyard.

"Thank God for the trees, that it was able to protect everything. What day do you come home and there's a plane actually in your yard?" said Williams.

First responders from just across the street cut the men out of the plane.

"I saw one guy get pulled out. From what I saw it looked like he didn't look too bad. I thought it was going to be a lot worse than what it is," said Shari O'Neil of Lindenwold.

Both men were taken to Cooper University Hospital, one by helicopter and the other by ambulance.

Officials said they were both conscious, but were not talking.

"Whatever injuries they sustained, they're still very fortunate. This could've gone a whole lot worse," said Lindenwold Police Chief Tom Brennan.

According to officials, no one on the ground was injured and no homes were damaged.

"We're fortunate in the fact that it didn't strike any houses," Brennan said.

The McCafferty family, which owns the plane, says it's registered in Maryland, where they live, but had rented it out to a Delaware man name Wayne Gilchrist, who had intended to go flying with his friend.

"Obviously something went wrong with this airplane. It's unknown right now what it was, but typically airplanes like this will suffer from engine failure, and that results in these off-airport landings," said Arthur Wolk, aviation expert.

Wolk says the FAA will be looking at a number of factors including the plane's mechanics.

While what caused the crash remains a mystery, residents are grateful this wasn't worse.

"Thank God. By the grace of God everybody is OK because it was nothing but the grace of God with this one," said O'Neil.

The crash caused a fuel leak, which crews worked to control with foam.

All streets around the crash scene were reopened shortly before 5 p.m.

Police say the plane will be removed Thursday morning, where the FAA will begin looking into mechanical issues, and other possible causes for the crash.