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911 Calls from East Haven, Conn., Plane Crash Released

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    NEWSLETTERS

    In the 911 calls you can hear callers describing the crash on Charter Oak Ave in East Haven. (Published Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013)

    Just before 11:30 a.m. on Friday, an airplane fell from the sky, crashing into two houses on Charter Oak Avenue in East Haven, not far from Tweed-New Haven Airport.

    Neighbors were jolted by the noise and noticed the fire and smoke.

    Later, they would learn that the horrific accident they witnessed claimed the lives of two young East Haven girls, the pilot and his teenage son.

    On Wednesday afternoon, police released the 911 calls those residents made.

    Caller: (very quiet and unintelligible)
    Dispatcher: How many, uh, people on board?
    Caller: We don’t know… I mean, he was inbound and he, he just fell out of the sky and crashed.
    Dispatcher: OK. Stay, uh, I have a 911 coming in from Charter Oak Avenue, I’m gonna give you a call back with it.
    Caller: OK, thank you, bye.

    Stephen Johnson, the only dispatcher on at the time, gathered information as more calls came in.

    Dispatcher: 911… Address of your emergency?
    Caller: Hey listen, you had a plane go down by the Tweed Airport.
    Dispatcher: OK.
    Caller: I was going into Tri-Lift, and I just saw it go straight down into the ground.
    Dispatcher: OK, thank you, sir.
    Caller: Alright, bye.

    As more calls came through, the severity of the crash became apparent.

    Dispatcher: 911… Address of your emergency?
    Caller: My name is Kathy (unintelligible). I’m at 64 Charter Oak Avenue. Uh, one of the planes going to Tweed New Haven Airport just crashed into a house.
    Dispatcher: Ma’am, are you there?
    Caller: Yes, I’m still here.
    Dispatcher: OK, what’s going on there, ma’am? I know there was a plane crash. Uh, are there people injured?
    Caller: Um, the woman is saying she has two children in the back room where the plane is.
    Dispatcher: OK. Where did the, what did the plane crash into?
    Caller: Into a house!
    Dispatcher: Into a house.
    (Caller telling someone in the background, “Come on, come on, get in the house.” It sounds like she is talking to a child named Christopher.)
    Dispatcher: Ma’am, ma’am…
    Caller: Yes?
    Dispatcher: You’re gonna to be my eyes and ears, do not hang up the phone. I’m gonna put you on hold, I’m sending help.
    Caller: OK. Thank you very much.

    Ambulances were dispatched, and more were ordered as crews started making their way to Charter Oak Avenue.

    Call answers: CMED?
    Dispatcher: Hey, uh, 64 Charter Oak Avenue.
    CMED: 64 Charter Oak, yup?
    Dispatcher: It’s gonna be for a plane crash into a house.
    CMED: Plane crash into a house.
    Dispatcher: OK, so send me two ambulances and a priority one and I’ll get you more.
    CMED: Yup.
    Dispatcher: Alright.
    CMED: Bye.

    The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

    Officials said Bill Henningsgaard was piloting the twin-engine plane, which crashed while he was attempting to land at Tweed-New Haven airport and plunged into the homes at 64 and 68 Charter Oak Avenue.

    Henningsgaard and his 17-year-old son, Maxwell, and two sisters who lived at one of the homes, Sade Brantley, 13, and Madisyn Mitchell, 1, were killed.

    The girls' mother made it out safely.

    The homes are scheduled for demolition, but it's not clear exactly when they will be torn down.