Small Jet Skids Into NJ Warehouse

An aerial view of the Canadair Challenger 600 corporate jet that crashed into a building after failing to take-off from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, Wednesday, Feb 2, 2005. (AP Photo/Stuart Ramson) AP

A corporate jet skidded off a runway Wednesday on takeoff and hurtled across a six-lane highway during the morning rush hour, smashing into two cars and punching through the wall of a warehouse. About 20 people were taken to the hospital, including two injured in their cars.

Crew members and passengers walked or crawled from the burning wreckage after the crash at Teterboro Airport, a small airport about 12 miles from midtown Manhattan that caters to executive jets.

"I think everybody at this point is extremely lucky and fortunate," said acting Gov. Richard J. Codey.

There is no obvious cause for the crash, reports CBS News Correspondent Bob Orr. The plane and its pilots have good safety records. Investigators will take a hard look at the engines, flight controls, runway conditions, and possible icing, Orr reports.

In December, three people were killed, including the son of NBC sports chairman Dick Ebersol, when a nearly identical business jet went down in Colorado. Icing is suspected as the likely cause, Orr reports.

The Bombardier Challenger CL-600 was carrying investment bankers from several companies to Chicago, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters. He had no other details.

All 11 people on the plane were taken to the hospital; the most seriously hurt among them was one of the pilots, who had a broken leg. One of those injured in a car was in critical condition. Five firefighters were taken to the hospital with minor injuries, and a man in the warehouse was also hurt.

"The pilot said he dragged himself out," witness Robert Sosa told WNBC-TV. "He literally crawled out like a baby, and all the other people just walked out normal."

Wheel tracks, plainly visible in snow, could be seen running sraight off the end of the runway, through a fence and a snowbank, and then across U.S. 46.

"Usually we see them lift off, but this one just went straight and started scratching the ground. There were sparks shooting out all over the place," said Joseph Massaro, a psychologist who lives nearby.

Rescue crews used a special hose nozzle to punch through the skin of the aircraft and spray fire-suppressing foam inside. The passengers were rushed to hospitals, where many had to be showered to remove jet fuel.

FAA spokesman Greg Martin said communication between air-traffic control and the aircraft was routine before the crash. The weather was clear and wind was calm, with the temperature around 20 degrees.
  • John Esterbrook

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