In Hasbrouck Heights, N.J, neighbors thought they heard fireworks or a huge explosion when the six-seat Beech Baron 58 crashed between two homes shortly after 5:30 p.m. Thursday, setting a garage on fire and clipping a back porch with its wing.
"It was a huge pillar of fire," said Bruce Wolf, who lives across the street. "I thought it was a natural gas explosion."
A man and two women aboard the plane were killed instantly, while a badly burned man died about four hours later at a hospital. Three people on the ground also sustained minor injuries, burned while attempting to extinguish the flames on the clothing of one of the passengers.
The plane came down about two miles short of the airport, bursting into a ball of flames after hitting a garage.
The twin-engine plane left from Hanover County, Va., and was on an approach to Teterboro Airport, across the Hudson River from New York City, said Jim Peters, an FAA spokesman. The crew was talking with air traffic controllers when it crashed.
National Transportation Safety Board investigator Bob Hancock said he didn't know if the pilot reported any trouble before the plane disappeared from radar.
The crash occurred 13 days after a single-engine plane crashed in a Newark neighborhood, killing a family of three aboard and injuring 25 on the ground.
In Branson, Mo., officials were investigating another air disaster that occurred when a twin-engine Cessna Citation, headed for a nearby college, fell from the sky and crashed in a wooded area. All six people aboard the plane perished.
The plane was enroute from St. Louis to College of the Ozarks. There were are reports of fog in the area at the time of the crash, but officials aren't sure if it played a part in the accident.
The college-owned aircraft crashed about 5 p.m. Thursday after clipping trees. The passengers were returning from a day trip to St. Louis, where one had received a teaching award. Aboard the plane were a professor, an administrator, their spouses, the pilot and a student co-pilot, the school said.