Co-pilot dead, 2 injured after plane crash in New Milford - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Co-pilot dead, 2 injured after plane crash in New Milford

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One person is dead after a plane crash in New Milford on Friday morning. (CBS) One person is dead after a plane crash in New Milford on Friday morning. (CBS)

A co-pilot is dead and two passengers were hurt after a single-engine plane crashed near an airport in New Milford on Friday morning, police said.

This is the second deadly crash that potentially involves Danbury-based Arrow Aviation in a matter of weeks.

Friday, the Cessna C-172 aircraft crashed at the end of Runway 17-35 at Candlelight Farms Airport around 10:20 a.m., according to Federal Aviation Administration. FAA officials said the plane departed Danbury Municipal Airport around 9:45 a.m. 

National Transportation Safety Board officials said three people were on the plane when it crashed.

New Milford police said the male co-pilot, who was also the flight instructor, was pinned under wreckage and pronounced dead by responding paramedics.

He was identified as Anthony Morasco, 57, of New Milford, according to police.

The surviving 17-year-old pilot was extricated and transported to Hartford Hospital by way of the LifeStar emergency helicopter. Police said she suffered serious life-threatening injuries.

The other surviving male, Peter Jelien, 44, of New York, emerged from the wreckage and walked several hundred yards to a random home to call for help, according to police. He reported that two others were with the plane. He was transported to Danbury Hospital.

Officials said Jelien is related to the 17-year-old, whose identity has not been released.

The NTSB will be out all day Saturday investigating the crash.

The investigation will take several weeks before officials can determine what caused it, according to police.

"I saw a middle aged man, he was sitting on a stone wall and he was bleeding [on his head] and he looked dazed, just kind of staring off into space," said Maria Conte, an eyewitness. 

Conte said she didn't hear the crash. She stumbled upon officers tending to the victim.

"This man didn't look like he was too banged up," she said. "It looked like he was dazed, maybe concussed."

Police said he was able to get up on his own and get help, but had symptoms of a concussion.

"He was severely disoriented, all he could say was he was in a plane crash," said Sgt. Lee Grabner, New Milford police.

Officials said that Jelien's action in getting help saved the girl's life.

"We believe it was a training flight based on the appearance of where they were seated in the plane, but we don't know the exact circumstances like who had control of the plane or what caused the crash," Grabner said.

The cause of the crash is under investigation by NTSB and FAA officials. They confirmed it was indeed a training flight.

They said the plane may have landed in New Milford before taking off to return to Danbury.

"It's just a small private field that's used for personal flights and some instruction," Grabner said. "They also work with Danbury Airport."

Ed McCarthy said he owns a plane at the New Milford Airport and said the grass runway could be tricky for beginners. However, with good conditions like those seen on Friday, it should not have been a problem.

"There are a few hills around here but it's a very safe airport," McCarthy said. "Very easy to operate in and out of it."

Examining the registration numbers, Eyewitness News found that it appears the plane belongs to Arrow Aviation.

A plane crashed in Danbury on July 30, killing Mark Stern of Redding. That plane also involved a Cessna and the flight school.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal urged the NTSB to quickly complete its probe.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the victim's family and those injured in this tragic crash," Blumenthal said. "I am alarmed by the number of small plane crashes that have claimed lives in recent months and years in Connecticut. I urge the NTSB to complete its investigation quickly and thoroughly so we can determine whether action may be warranted to strengthen safety measures for small aircraft."

Officials will be removing the plane on Sunday and taking it to Delaware for inspection.

There have been a number of small plane crashes in Connecticut this year.

In April, Dr. Joseph Tomanelli was killed when the plane he was in crashed on Hanover Street in Wallingford.

Two men were killed in East Windsor roughly two weeks before that.

Pablo Campos-Isona of East Haven was killed when his plane crashed in February.

Anyone who witnessed Friday's crash is asked to contact the New Milford Police Department at 860-355-3133.

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