Four dead after plane en route to OBX crashes into building, bursts into flames in Connecticut


The plane, with four people on board, was headed to Manteo, NC

FARMINGTON, Conn. (WTNH/WAVY)– A small plane with four people aboard crashed Thursday morning on takeoff in central Connecticut and hit a building.

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The FAA reported that a Cessna Citation 560X business jet taking off from Robertson Airport in Plainville crashed into the Trumpf building in Farmington around 10 a.m. Thursday.

Farmington Police say the first officers on the scene reported a plane struck the building and was fully engulfed in flames.

The plane was headed to Dare County Regional Airport in Manteo, North Carolina, with four people aboard: two passengers and two pilots.

On Friday, Farmington police identified the two pilots as 55-year-old William O’Leary of Bristol and 57-year-old Mark Morrow of Danbury. The two passengers were identified as 33-year-old Courtney Haviland of Boston, Massachusetts and her husband, 32-year-old William Shrauner.

According to News 8’s news partners at the Hartford Courant, Haviland and Shrauner were on their way for a weekend getaway. Haviland grew up in Farmington.

Dr. Matthew L. Mitchell, Senior Minister at Church of the Servant UMC in Oklahoma City and spokesperson for the family, said the couple has a one-year-old son. Mitchell confirmed to News 8 that Courtney was pregnant at the time of the crash. She was expecting a girl.

“They met in medical school, and their love for medicine and people just brought them together and they had a truly wonderful marriage and life together and love for one another, that we hate to see tragically end as it has,” Mitchell said.

On Friday, Boston Medical Center released a statement after the two passengers were identified as doctors, saying, “We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one of our cardiology fellows, Dr. Will Shrauner, and his wife, Dr. Courtney Haviland. Will, a second-year fellow at Boston Medical Center, was well known as an outstanding educator, physician, colleague and friend to many. Our thoughts and prayers are with Will and Courtney’s family and loved ones.”

Massachusetts General Hospital Dr. Ron Leinman, Physician-in-Chief released a statement saying, “Our hearts are broken following the passing of our friend and colleague Dr. Courtney Haviland and her husband, Dr. Will Shrauner. Courtney first came to MassGeneral Hospital for Children in 2016 as a resident and most recently completed a fellowship in Medical Simulation this past June before moving on to Brown University where she worked as a fellow in Pediatric Emergency Medicine. She was universally loved by her colleagues and patients and lived a life full of meaning. Her bright smile and the twinkle in her eye left an indelible mark on all who met her, as did her boundless kindness and compassion. Our thoughts are with her family and loved ones as we grieve with them during this difficult and tragic time.”

Farmington police said witnesses reported the plane had trouble shortly after takeoff. The plane then hit the ground and slid into the building. Farmington police report there is evidence of some kind of mechanical failure during take-off.

“There was some type of trouble in the air,” said Farmington Police Lt. Tim McKenzie. He said an intense fire burned for over 20 minutes.

Images from the scene show flames coming from the business jet.

Trumpf Inc. posted to social media saying all employees who were inside the affected building have been accounted for with two injuries reported.

One of two people injured inside Trumpf headquarters was badly burned when the plane came down on the building. He is now in the burn unit in Bridgeport after first being treated at Hartford Hospital.

The wife of 47-year-old Stephen Johnson of Portland spoke with WAVY sister station News 8 over the phone Thursday afternoon. Robyn says her husband has worked for the company for more than 20 years.

She described how she found out her husband was injured: “My husband called me and told me not to panic that he was on his way to the hospital in an ambulance…He told me he was able to shield his face, but his back was pretty badly burned and the back of his head…There was this huge explosion and he was thrown and then he felt something hit him from behind and he got loose and just ran and that there was fire everywhere…I don’t even know if in the moment he knew it was a plane. I think all of a sudden there was an explosion and he was running from fire.”

Witnesses in the area recalled the chaos.

“I was sitting at home, heard all the ambulances, and came on my walk, it’s just devastating,” one woman said.

Joseph Gilberti works in a nearby building.

“Our company felt an explosion — a rumbling — knew it was big, something big… All the Trumpf employees were congregated too and I was listening to them and they were talking about a fireball. They said the whole wall was on fire and that there was a fireball. How horrifying was that? To think that just a few degrees different trajectory and everyone in there is going to be incinerated is pretty alarming,” he added.

There are reportedly chemicals stored in the Trumpf manufacturing building. Police say it’s a miracle everyone in that building is accounted for.

“Connecticut Natural Gas Company did mention only a few feet from this building, if the plane had struck that building back there, the explosion would have been enormous and we would have had a lot more loss of life here,” McKenzie said.

Gov. Ned Lamont arrived to tour the damage.

“It’s a pretty tough day here in Connecticut,” he said, adding that first responders arrived at the scene “immediately and there was nothing left, just a ball of fire.”

Police are urging residents to avoid the area so emergency crews can evacuate the area.

The FAA along with Farmington Police and NTSB are investigating. Officials expect to be processing the scene for several days.

This is an ongoing investigation and will be updated.

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