FBI investigating if deadly plane crash in Connecticut was intentional

A plane crashed on Main St. in East Hartford on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016.  (WFSB)
A plane crashed on Main St. in East Hartford on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016. (WFSB)

The FBI is investigating whether a small plane that struck a utility pole near the Connecticut River in East Hartford was intentionally crashed, CBS News has confirmed.

The crash killed one person and seriously injured another.

The pilot, Feras M. Freitekh, is a Jordanian national who first entered the U.S. in 2012 on a temporary student M1 visa to fulfill a course of study for flight school, CBS News has learned. At some point his status changed to an F1 visa, and he went to a language school in Toledo, Ohio. It then went back to an M1 visa.

The New York Times first reported that the FBI was brought in to investigate claims made by the instructor that the plane was intentionally crashed.

The Hartford Courant reports that the Cessna took off from Hartford’s Brainard Airport on Tuesday with a student pilot and an instructor on board. It struck a utility pole in East Hartford and crashed around 4 p.m., bursting into flames.

Police say the plane’s pilot was taken to a hospital with serious burns and that the passenger was killed.

The Piper PA 34 twin-engine plane crashed on Main Street in East Hartford at around 3:30 p.m., according to the deputy police chief. Main Street was shut down between Brown Street and Ensign Street. Drivers were being asked to avoid the area, CBS affiliate WFSB reports.

Police said Main Street will be closed between Willow Street Extension and Ensign Street until further notice.

Two people were in a nearby car when the plane crashed on Main Street, police said. Authorities said the car occupants were traumatized from the crash and were taken to the hospital. The car they were in was never hit by the plane.

Officials said the plane originated from a local flight school. The Federal Aviation Administration said the aircraft was on final approach to a runway at Brainard Airport.

On Tuesday evening, police said the surviving occupant of the plane is expected to survive. He is awake and speaking with investigators.

“As far as the occupants of the plane, he is expected to survive. He is cooperating with investigators he’s actually speaking with detectives as part of this investigation as ongoing,” said East Hartford Police Lt. Josh Litwin.

The NTSB and the FAA will have a joined investigation. The FBI was also at the scene on Tuesday.

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