‘Plane was nose down...saw its belly’
Engines screaming, a US commuter plane skimmed over the head of a startled motorist in its last seconds before plunging into his neighbor’s house triggering a deadly fireball.Updated: Feb 13, 2009 23:24 IST
Engines screaming, a US commuter plane skimmed over the head of a startled motorist in its last seconds before plunging into his neighbor’s house triggering a deadly fireball.
The plane was “nose down, tilted to the left so I was able to see the underbelly of the plane,” said Tony Tatro Continental Flight 3407, which crashed late Thursday into a house just yards (meters) from his own home while heading toward Buffalo, New York from Newark, New Jersey.
“It was only about 75 feet above me when it crossed the road,” he told CNN recounting the terrifying sight of the flight crashing right in front of him.
The crash in Clarence Center claimed 50 lives, and Tatro said Friday he knew immediately that no one on the plane could have survived, especially after it exploded as it hit the ground.
The wreckage was “fully engulfed in flames and 40 and 50 feet high. The heat was intense enough you couldn't get to the same side of the street,” he said.
The tragedy unfolded as he was driving home from the gym.
“It was about 10:15 and heading east on Clarence Center road and saw the plane coming from my right to my left, which is northeast,” Tatro recalled.
“The exact option direction the plane would have been going had it been going to the airport.
“I don't know if they were making a swing and the swing never happened or what had happened but it was heading the absolutely direction of the airport.
“The plane nose down and not as steep as being reported, but it was steep enough that it didn’t look right. The left wing was tilted lower than the right. So it was pitched and it was headed down.”
Before the crash, Tatro said he could hear the aircraft's engines. “It wasn’t going straight down and wasn't spinning. I don’t think the pilot would have had control at that point. From where it crossed my path, the road to where it impacted the ground was only a couple of blocks and it happened literally within fractions of seconds," Tatro said.
“By the time that I had parked my car, literally, one block from where I made the 911 call and gotten out and gone through a yard it was a matter of minutes after impact and the home was completely destroyed already at that point.”
First Published: Feb 13, 2009 23:23 IST