PLAINVILLE, Mass. (AP) — The three people killed when their small plane crashed into a Massachusetts home over the weekend have been identified tentatively as a Tennessee doctor, his wife and college-age daughter, authorities said Monday.
Plainville police Chief Jim Alfred said the victims are believed to be Joseph Richard Kalister, an emergency room physician; his wife, Betty; and daughter, Nicole, who was 18 or 19. The family lived in Knoxville. Alfred said it may be several days before the state medical examiner can confirm the identities; further testing is necessary because of the extent of the injuries to the bodies.
Northeastern University in Boston confirmed Monday that Nicole Kalister was scheduled to attend a new-student orientation there this week.
Shortly before the Beechcraft BE36 crashed into the house crash on Sunday evening, the pilot calmly told an air traffic controller he had no engine power and was gliding in the minutes before impact.
"Yeah, we've got problems with the engine, where's the nearest airport?" the pilot says, according to audio of the exchange posted on the website liveatc.net.
The air traffic controller suggests returning to an airport seven miles behind the plane, but it becomes clear that the pilot is not going to make it.
"We have a real bad vibration, we're losing engines," the pilot says.
The air traffic controller tells the pilot to look for a highway to land on, suggesting nearby Interstate 495.
"We have no engines, I need help," the pilot says, adding later, "we're gliding."
After a period of silence, the air traffic controller says, "radar contact is lost."
The plane had taken off from Lancaster Airport in Pennsylvania and was headed to Norwood Memorial Airport in Massachusetts when it struck the roof of the two-story colonial-style home in Plainville and burst into flames. Four people in the home, including two children, escaped unharmed with the family's pets as the top floor of their home was engulfed.
Homeowner Aaron Rice said his wife and two sons were upstairs when the plane hit, while he was on the ground floor.
"We heard a loud bang and saw a fireball come down the back of the house," he said.
The most heavily damaged part of the house was his sons' upstairs bedrooms, Rice said.
State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan called their escape "a miracle."
Rice said Monday the public attention should be on the victims killed in the plane.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration arrived on scene Monday.
NTSB investigator Doug Bazy said a team that also includes representatives of the plane's frame and engine manufacturers expect to be there for two or three days. He said at a brief news conference the investigation "is very young and it is also very broad at this time."
Fighting the blaze was difficult because there are no fire hydrants in the neighborhood, Fire Chief Jason Alexander said. Several other area departments helped.
Neighbors reported hearing something amiss as the plane flew over the neighborhood.
Mike Brown told The Sun Chronicle he was outside barbecuing when he heard the plane, looked up and saw it start to bank. He said the engine sounded like it was sputtering and then heard a crash and saw smoke.