FARMINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — Emergency crews responded to the scene of a fatal plane crash in Farmington Thursday morning. Officials confirmed all four occupants of the plane have perished.
The FAA reported that a Cessna Citation 560X business jet taking off from Robertson Airport in Plainville crashed into the Trumpf building in Farmington just before 10 a.m. Thursday.
Farmington Police said 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 North Carolina with four people on board.
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.”
WEB EXTRA: Farmington PD Lt. Tim McKenzie gives update on fatal plane crash into Trumpf building
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 reported there is evidence of some kind of mechanical failure during take-off.
Trumpf Inc. posted to social media that all employees who were inside the affected building have been accounted for with two injuries reported.
One of two people injured inside the 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 News 8 over the phone Thursday afternoon. Robyn said 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.
Joseph Gilberti works in a nearby building and added, “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.”
We’re told there are a lot of chemicals 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,” Farmington Police Lt. Tim McKenzie.
News 8 spoke with a man who said he was inside the building when the crash occurred.
He did not want to be identified, but said, “It was scary. We all just panicked… I looked back. I yelled for everybody to get out. I was close to an emergency exit, opened it up, the alarm went off. We just had to do what we had to do to survive.”
When we asked if he felt God was with him this morning, he answered, “Absolutely. Absolutely.”
Governor Ned Lamont headed to the scene Thursday afternoon. He told News 8, “You still see the first responders who were here immediately.”
Robyn told us she has not been able to watch any coverage of the crash, that she is not ready to see that yet. She has been told her husband is in stable condition; she is scheduled to see him in Bridgeport Friday.
“I was sitting at home, heard all the ambulances, and came on my walk, it’s just devastating,” one woman told News 8.
News 8 spoke to an expert who said two pilots are required to fly this kind of aircraft. He says the Cessna Citation 560X business jet is considered to be a very comfortable and capable aircraft.
“First thought that comes to mind is, it was an aircraft malfunction of some sort,” said Mike Teiger, an active private pilot. “It’s an executive jet, the runway is 3,600 feet which is long enough for an aircraft to take off. Weather was not a factor. It was a very clear day, there was no difficulty as far as runway conditions,” Teiger said.
News 8 also spoke to Eric Buhrendorf, the owner of an IT services company called EVERNET out of Hartford and a private pilot based at Robertson Airport for the last few years.
“This is just a sad case of bad luck,” Buhrendorf said. “It’s just so heartbreaking that there’s a loss in this capacity.”
Brook Haven Properties LLC in Camden, Delaware, owned the jet.
It is not currently known whether this particular aircraft has had mechanical issues in the past.
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.