Friends, family to remember pilot who died in Wallingford plane crash

Dr. Joseph Tomanelli was killed when the plane he and his son were flying crash in Wallingford on Monday night. (iWitness/Hartford HealthCare photos)

Federal investigators are looking into what caused a deadly plane crash in Wallingford on Monday night.

Hanover Street near the Meriden-Markham Municipal Airport remained closed on Tuesday, more than 12 hours after the crash was reported.

According to police, 56-year-old Joseph Tomanelli of Cheshire died.

His 21-year-old son, Daniel Tomanelli, is recovering at Yale-New Haven Hospital with a fracture and a broken femur.

Police in Meriden released a couple of 911 calls they received following the incident. The callers described a smoky, fiery wreck to dispatchers.

Eyewitness News learned on Tuesday that Joseph Tomanelli was a doctor with Hartford HealthCare. According to its site, he specialized in internal medicine and was board certified.

Hartford HealthCare released a statement about his death.

"MidState Medical Center, Hartford HealthCare Medical Group and all of us at Hartford HealthCare offer our heartfelt condolences to Dr. Joseph Tomanelli, his family, friends, colleagues and patients," said Shawn Mawhiney, director of service line communications, Hartford HealthCare. "We are incredibly shocked and saddened to learn of this tragedy – Dr. Tomanelli was a well-known and esteemed primary care physician in our community for years and will be tremendously missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with all who knew him."

An eyewitness captured images of the scorched plane moments after it went down.

Police said the pair had been practicing landings when the crash happened.

"I don't know if he was in training," said Diane Lebel of Wallingford. "He was instructing, so I can't really judge. But [it's] sad to have to hear someone has passed."

Police said they didn't know who was flying or what kind of plane it was. However, they said it was privately owned.

The Federal Aviation Administration arrived on the scene, along with the National Transportation Safety Board.

"During the first approach, they came in the aircraft bounced twice, went airborne again, came back around and then on the second set, the second bounce, the aircraft flared about 10-15 high, bounced, rolled to the left and impacted," said Todd Gunther, NTSB investigator.

Investigators said they will be looking into the status of the plane, the engine, the flight control, along with the state of those on board when it went down.

"The NTSB will be on scene for two to three days and in that time, we're the equivalent of a vacuum cleaner, we'll be taking in all sorts of evidence, any type of data, photographs, witness interviews and observations," Gunther said.

This deadly plane crash is the fourth to happen in Connecticut in less than a year.

The most recent happened in East Windsor less than a week ago. Two men were killed.

Before that, another aircraft went down in February in East Haven. One man died.

Last fall, a man was killed in a plane crash in East Hartford, near Pratt & Whitney. His instructor was hurt.

Eyewitness News will have more on this story throughout the day.

Copyright 2017 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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