A small plane preparing to land broke apart and nose-dived into a snowy field alongside a Central New Jersey runway Monday afternoon, killing five people onboard, officials said.
Wall Township authories said all five bodies have been located, but the names of the victims have not been released. Sources said that three of the victims were men and two were children. A father and son are reportedly among the dead.
The plane is said to be a Cessna 337 Skymaster, last made in 1982, with an unusual front propeller/rear propeller combination. There was no information immediately available as to who was onboard.
"A large debris field" was found at the general aviation airport, which does not have a control tower, said Peters. Chopper images showed debris strewn across a snowy white field next to the airport runway.
"Two sleigh riders came upon the accident scene," and called it in, said Peters. It is not clear that the pilot of the plane ever sent out a "Mayday."
Wayne Matichuk, 43, of Wall Township, was among a group on a sledding hill when he saw the plane coming in low.
Matichuk told The Star-Ledger of Newark that the plane did not have its landing gear down, and "it seemed like he was going side to side."
The pilot pulled up and "a piece of the plane fell off," Matichuk said. Then the right wing dipped and the plane rolled over before crashing upside-down into the ground, he said.
The plane crashed upside-down into the ground, he said.
"It was so surreal. After it happened, every one of us turned around and said, 'Did that really just happen?'" said Matichuk.
Dana McNally, 39, of Wall, told the Asbury Park Press of Neptune that she witnessed the crash. McNally said it appeared the pilot was coming in for a landing and attempted to abort. But something — possibly the tail of the plane — broke off, she said. The plane veered to the right and nose-dived into the field next to the runway, McNally said.
"It hit face-first," McNally said. "It just went right in (to the field) nose first."
The FAA rushed to the scene and was looking to see if the pilot field a flight plan, officials said.