坠毁前塔台通话音频(Air Traffic Control Audio Prior To Crash)
Firefighters battle flames on Clarence Center Road after an airplane crashed into a home late Thursday.
Harry Scull / Buffalo News
49 KILLED AS PLANE CRASHES INTO HOME IN CLARENCE CENTER
Updated: 02/13/09 01:52 AM
By Dale Anderson and Phil Fairbanks
News Staff Reporters
Forty-nine people died when a Continental Express airplane crashed into a house in Clarence Center shortly after 10 p.m. Thursday, setting off a huge fire that could be seen miles away.
The dead included 44 passengers, four crew members and a person on the ground.
A nurse at Erie County Medical Center said the hospital’s second shift had been told to stay late to treat survivors but was sent home before midnight.
“There were no souls to bring in and treat,” she said.
Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority spokesman C. Douglas Hartmayer said there was little communication between the plane, Flight 3407, and the tower before the crash. Crew members aboard the flight from Newark Airport had reported mechanical problems as they approached Buffalo.
The plane reportedly was a Bombardier Q400, a twin-engine turboprop with a passenger capacity of about 74.
“I was told by the tower the plane simply dropped off the radar screen,” Hartmayer said.
Initial reports said the crash site was 6050 Long St., not far from the Clarence Center Fire Hall on Clarence Center Road. Police said one man was in the residence at the time of the crash.
About 12 other nearby homes were evacuated. Several of them sustained fire damage.
“We had a significant amount of fuel left in the aircraft, said Dave Bissonette, emergency co ordinator for the Town of Clarence. “It was a hazmat situation.”
Chris Kausner of Clarence, whose sister Ellyce was aboard the flight, told The Buffalo News that after he heard about the crash, he called another sister who had gone to pick her up at the airport to see if her plane had landed.
“She said that they told them the plane had landed and was taxiing, but that was not the case,” he said.
Kausner said Ellyce was a law student at Florida Coastal University in Jacksonville and was coming home to visit.
In Washington, the National Transportation Safety Board announced that it will be sending a team to Buffalo this morning to investigate the crash.
Lorenda Ward will serve as chief investigator. She has investigated several other plane crashes during her tenure at the agency — including the fall 2007 crash in Manhattan that claimed the life of New York Yankees pitcher Corey Lidle.
Safety Board Commissioner Steven Chealander and public affairs officer Keith Holloway will accompany Ward to Buffalo. While the agency’s investigations usually take months to complete, the agency said it would hold a news conference to discuss the accident in the Buffalo area today.
The crash is America’s deadliest since a Comair commuter jet crashed in Lexington, Ky., on Aug. 27, 2006. That crash also claimed 49 lives.
David Luce, who lives about 150 yards from the crash scene, on Goodrich Road, said he wasn’t surprised to learn that there were so many deaths.
“I can’t imagine that anyone survived it,” he said. “If you heard that explosion, and you saw how fast the whole area was on fire, it was pretty clear that it was jet fuel burning.”
Just before the crash, Luce heard the plane and noticed that it sounded a little funny.
“It sounded quite loud, and then the sound stopped,” Luce said. “Then one or two seconds later, there was a thunderous explosion. I thought something hit our house. It shook our whole house.”
“There was the initial boom, and then these cannon shots … these loud secondary explosions, and they went on for about 10 minutes.”
Within 5 to 10 seconds, Luce said he saw flames 40 or 50 feet high.
One or two minutes after the crash, Luce had walked to a spot that gave him a clearer view of the scene.
“The house was already flattened. There was no house, just a pile of rubble and still burning.”
Luce said he heard screams following the crash, but he doesn’t know whether they came from injured people or from neighbors.
Almost two hours after the crash, Luce said he still saw flames shooting from the crash site, but they were not as high as before. Buffalo News Staff Photographer Harry Scull Jr., who lives in Clarence, said he heard a fire alarm at 10:20 p.m.
“Thirty seconds later, the phone rang, and I knew it was something big,” he said. “It was my neighbor. He said a plane hit a house, look out your window. I’m two miles from there, and it was a ball of fire.”
Scull said he went to Long Street to take photos and found a chaotic scene as firefighters attempted to run hoses to fight the flames.
Scull noted that after dark, he has noticed that incoming flights pass lower overhead.
“It scares you, they come in so low,” Scull said. “You can smell the jet fuel burning. I knew it was just a matter of time.”
News Staff Reporters T.J. Pignataro, Harold McNeil, Sharon Linstedt, and Staff Photographers Harry Scull Jr. and Bill Wippert contributed to this report.
Plane crash in upstate NY kills 49 people
Updated: 02/13/09 02:03 AM
By JOHN WAWROW
The Associated Press
A commuter plane crashed into a suburban Buffalo home and erupted in flames late Thursday, killing all 48 people aboard and one person on the ground, authorities said.
Flames silhouetted the shattered home after Continental Connection Flight 3407 plummeted into it around 10:20 p.m.
“The whole sky was lit up orange,” said Bob Dworak, who lives less than a mile from the crash site. “All the sudden, there was a big bang, and the house shook.”
The 74-seat Q400 Bombardier aircraft, operated by Colgan Air, was flying from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey to Buffalo Niagara International Airport in light snow, fog and 17 mph winds.
Dworak said while residents of his neighborhood about 10 miles from the Buffalo airport were used to planes rumbling overhead, but this one sounded louder than usual, sputtered and made some odd noises. After hearing the crash, he drove over to take a look, and “all we were seeing was 50 to 100 foot flames and a pile of rubble on the ground. It looked like the house just got destroyed the instant it got hit,” he said.
Witness Tony Tatro said he saw the plane flying low and knew it was in trouble.
“It was not spiraling at all. The left wing was a little low,” he told WGRZ-TV.
It was the first fatal crash of a commercial airliner in the United States since Aug. 27, 2006, when 49 people were killed after a Comair jetliner took off from a Lexington, Ky., runway that was too short.
Prior to the crash, the voice of a female pilot on Continental flight 3407 can be heard communicating with air traffic controllers, according to a recording of the Buffalo air traffic control’s radio messages shortly before the crash captured by the Web site http://www.liveatc.net. Neither the controller nor the pilot exchange any concerns that anything is out of the ordinary as the airplane is asked to fly at 2,300 feet.
A minute later, the controller tries to contact the plane saying but hears no response. After a pause, he tries to contact the plane again.
Then the controller asks the pilot of a nearby Delta Air Lines plane to see if he can see the Continental flight.
“Delta 1998, look off your right side about 5 miles for a Dash 8 about 2,300 (feet). You see anything there?” he asks.
“Uh, negative,” the Delta pilot says.
Houston-based Continental Airlines issued a statement saying that preliminary information showed the plane carried 44 passengers and a crew of four.
“At this time, the full resources of Colgan Air’s accident response team are being mobilized and will be devoted to cooperating with all authorities responding to the accident and to contacting family members and providing assistance to them,” the statement said.
Chris Kausner, believing his sister was on the plane, rushed to a hastily established command center after calling his vacationing mother in Florida to break the news.
“To tell you the truth, I heard my mother make a noise on the phone that I’ve never heard before. So not good, not good,” he told reporters.
Clarence emergency control director Dave Bissonette said the crash also killed one person on the ground.
Manassas, Va.-based Colgan did not immediately return telephone calls. The Federal Aviation Administration had no immediate comment.
Twelve homes were evacuated near the crash site, about 10 miles from the airport. The tail or part of a wing was visible through flames and thick smoke that engulfed the scene.
Two women believed to be residents of the neighborhood were being treated at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital for what were described as non-life threatening injuries, hospital spokesman Michael Hughes said.
They were transported by ambulance approximately 11:35 p.m.
The crash came less than a month after a US Airways pilot guided his crippled plane to a landing in the Hudson River off Manhattan, saving the lives of all 155 people aboard. Birds had apparently disabled both its engines.
On Dec. 20, a Continental Airlines plane veered off a runway and slid into a snowy field at the Denver airport, injuring 38 people.
Continental’s release said relatives and friends of those on Flight 3407 who wanted to give or receive information about those on board could telephone a special family assistance number, 1-800-621-3263.
Associated Press writers Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo, Linda Franklin in Dallas, Daniel Yee in Atlanta and Cristian Salazar and Jennifer Peltz in New York contributed to this report.