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Crime

FBI Investigating Whether Small Plane Crash in Middle of Connecticut City Was Intentional

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Jim Michaud/Journal Inquirer/AP

Federal officials are investigating a fatal plane crash in Connecticut that left one person dead and another injured on Tuesday after it barreled into a utility pole near a jet engine manufacturing company, reports say.

Officials said an instructor and student pilot were trying to land the Piper PA-34 Seneca at Hartford-Brainard Airport in Hartford at around 4 p.m. when the aircraft hit a utility pole, crashed into Main Street near Pratt & Whitney headquarters and burst into flames, the Associated Press reports.

East Hartford police chief Scott Sansom said at a Tuesday press conference that police sought the help of the FBI because the plane crash occurred so close to the jet engine maker — which he called “critical infrastructure.” He added that it is unclear what caused the crash.

Police said the pilot was taken to a hospital with serious burns and the passenger was found in the burning plane and is presumed dead, the AP reports.

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Officials said during the conference that two people who were in a minivan near the crash had minor injuries and were taken to a hospital.

CBS News reports that the FBI is investigating whether the crash was intentional — or simply an accident.

The pilot reportedly told investigators that the crash was not an accident, The New York Times reports, citing anonymous sources close to the investigation.

Officials have identified the passenger as a 28-year-old man, according to the Times and Federal Aviation Administration records showed that he was issued a private pilot certificate last year and had been authorized to fly a single-engine plane.

A spokesman for Pratt & Whitney, an East Hartford-based global jet engine manufacturer, said that it did “not appear at this time that any Prat & Whitney employees or contractors were involved,” NBC Connecticut reports.

“Additionally, there is no impact to our operation here in East Hartford other than restricted traffic flow to the facility’s main entrance on Main Street,” the spokesman said. “We stand ready to assist local officials as needed. Additional queries should be directed to the appropriate local officials.”