A Tuesday afternoon plane crash in Connecticut may have been intentional, says its sole survivor.
On Tuesday afternoon, a twin-engine Piper PA-34 Seneca crashed into a utility pole in East Hartford, Connecticut, close to the corporate headquarters of jet engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney. One of the two people on board was killed in the crash. The survivor has reportedly stated that the crash was not accidental.
Fox News and the Associated Press relayed caution from East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc that suspicions of a deliberate crash have not been confirmed, but she did confirm that the survivor, the pilot of the aircraft, was “cooperating with investigators” and “speaking with detectives.” Pratt & Whitney is also cooperating with the investigation.
The Hartford Courant reported on Wednesday that the FBI is investigating whether the crash was a deliberate act. The State Police Central District Crime Squad and Fire and Explosion Investigations Unit are also involved, along with counterterrorism investigators from the state police, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the National Transportation Safety Board.
The plane took off from Hartford-Brainard Airport on Tuesday afternoon with a student and a flight instructor on board. The instructor is the survivor. The student, 28-year-old Feras M. Freitekh, was licensed to fly a single-engine plane, and has held a private pilot certification since May 2015.
According to the Hartford Courant, police have investigated an apartment house in a complex often patronized by flight students from foreign countries, presumably searching Freitekh’s dwelling.
CBS News describes Freitekh as “a Jordanian national who first entered the U.S. in 2012 on a temporary student M1 visa to fulfill a course of study for flight school.”
“At some point his status changed to an F1 visa, and he went to a language school in Toledo, Ohio. It then went back to an M1 visa,” CBS added.
Eyewitnesses said they saw the plane coming in unusually low – low enough to severely traumatize the occupants of a car near the crash site.
“I saw the plane hit the power lines, go into a power pole and then hit just before a minivan and burst into flames. I thought the power lines were going to come down, so I gunned it,” motorist Frank Crandall told the Courant.
Although officials are not providing more details at the moment, due to the active investigation in progress, the general theory of the crash seems to be that Freitekh took control of the plane and tried to crash into the “critical infrastructure” represented by Pratt & Whitney headquarters, perhaps miscalculating his ability to fly around the power lines. Doubtless more information about his background, and exactly what the flight instructor told investigators, will be forthcoming.