plane crash

Former Vernon Police Captain, Insurance Analyst Among Victims in B-17 Crash

A former police officer and an insurance analyst were among the seven people killed in the crash of a B-17 bomber at a Connecticut airport

A former Vernon police captain and an insurance analyst were among the seven people killed in the crash of a B-17 bomber at a Connecticut airport. 

State officials said Thursday that Gary Mazzone died in the crash of the World War II-era plane at Bradley International Airport Wednesday. 

The 60-year-old Mazzone, of East Windsor, retired in January as a prosecutor's office inspector and previously was a Vernon police officer for 22 years.

"It is with deep sadness that I inform the Vernon Police Department, past and present, of the untimely death of retired Captain, Gary Mazzone. Captain Mazzone was onboard the B-17 Flying Fortress that crashed today at Bradley International Airport," Vernon Police Chief James Kenny said in a statement.

Mazzone joined the Vernon Police Department on Aug. 2, 1976 and retired Sept. 23, 1998. 

"Captain Mazzone had a distinguished career and was a graduate of the FBI National Academy," Kenny said in a statement. "After retiring from VPD, Captain Mazzone worked as an Inspector within the Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice."

Vernon police said Mazzone retired from the state in January 2019. 

Mazzone spent more than 42 years in law enforcement and Vernon police said he had a special relationship with Special Olympics Connecticut and is a member of their hall of fame.

"As recent as last month, he was still supporting VPD's efforts with Special Olympics.   He will be missed by his family, friends and coworkers. Please keep Captain Mazzone and his family in your thoughts and prayers," Kenny said in a statement. 

He added that Mazzone's family has requested privacy for the immediate future.

The Division of Criminal Justice, where Mazzone worked until his retirement Jan. 1, released a statement in memory of Mazzone: "The Division of Criminal Justice is deeply saddened by the death of our friend and colleague, Gary Mazzone. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time. Gary was a thoughtful and generous person who always gave his all throughout his long career in law enforcement. He served 22 years with the Vernon Police Department before joining the Division of Criminal Justice as an Inspector in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney in 1998 and then serving in the Litchfield State’s Attorney’s office from December 2009 until his retirement on January 1, 2019."

The wife of Robert Riddell, an insurance company analyst from East Granby, said in a Facebook post that her husband was among those killed. 

Robert Riddell had posted a photo from inside the plane just before takeoff. 

NBC Connecticut has learned that one of the survivors of the B-17 plane crash was a member of the Connecticut Air National Guard at Bradley International Airport.  His name has not been released but he was one of the injured and was transported to Hartford Hospital.  

“We’re closely monitoring the situation as the investigation proceeds,” Maj. Gen. Francis Evon, The Adjutant General of the Connecticut National Guard said in a statement. “We commend the swift actions of our Guardsmen in supporting the mutual aid response and are grateful for the well-being of our member on the flight. Our hearts are with all of those affected by the tragic accident that took place today.”

The Connecticut National Guard deployed resources to assist after the crash, including fire and emergency medical services, a mobile emergency operations center, and two buses to serve as cooling stations for the responders.

Two other survivors of the crash have been identified as members of Simsbury's fire department, though their names have not been released, but Simsbury First Selectman Eric Wellman released a statement on social media: "As reported in the news, the two members of the Simsbury Volunteer Fire Department who were on the plane survived, however their conditions are not being released publicly at this time. The outpouring of concern from Simsbury residents is a bright spot in this tragedy and a touching example of our community's caring connections. Out of respect for the families and the SVFD, we ask that you not call the fire department or town offices for information; official information will be released when we are in a position to do so.  In the meantime, please join me in holding the victims, families, and first responders in our hearts."

The victims' names have not been officially released, but officials and relatives are beginning to confirm some of them.

The NTSB is currently investigating the cause of the crash.

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