- by Carolyne Volpe Curley / Carolyne@WestEssexNOW.com
The Medical Examiner's office has confirmed the pilot's identity as John Hannon, 55, of Toms River.
WEST CALDWELL, NJ - Saturday morning, at 9:59am, the West Caldwell Police and Fairfield Police were alerted to a plane crash in the wooded area behind Kiddie Academy, located at 810 Passaic Avenue, West Caldwell. Immediately after, West Caldwell Fire Department and the Fairfield Fire Department were dispatched to the scene for a working fire in progress. By 10:03am the West Essex First Aid Squad was dispatched to the crash site as well.
"Officers discovered a single engine Cessna 206
had crashed in the wooded area behind 810 Passaic Avenue
just after take off from the Essex County Airport,"
commented West Caldwell Police Captain Gerard Paris.
"The wreckage was completely engulfed by fire
which the West Caldwell Fire Department extinguished.
The pilot and sole occupant was found in the wreckage, deceased."
"I witnessed the plane coming down and crashing," Alvine commented.
"I was the first on the scene and called it into the police.
I then called out for a working fire dispatch for mutual aid from
Fairfield, Caldwell, Verona and the First Aid Squad.
I set up command in the parking lot at 810 Passaic Avenue and gave instructions to the incoming fire trucks and towns.
We had to cut the fence of the day care center
to enter the area where the plane was burning.
Then we stretched two lines coming into the woods
and eventually extinguished the fire.
The victim was found still in the plane.
The fire was extinguished and command of the scene
was turned over to police agencies."
"I was the first one to reach the wreckage," Connolly commented.
"I jumped the fence and made my way to the plane.
I advised West Caldwell command that there was one body in the plane
but I continued searching the perimeter for any other victims."
Kiddie Academy does offer a summer program for infants to children up to age 12; because the incident occurred on Saturday, the school was closed.
The Caldwell Fire Department provided mutual aid with one engine, and one truck at 10:08am. North Caldwell Police responded to Passaic Avenue for traffic control and North Caldwell Fire Department responded, as well, with one engine. The Verona Fire Department and the Essex County Sheriff's Department also offered mutual aid.
Because this is an aviation incident, the Federal Aviation Authority and the National Transportation Safety Board are handling the investigation.
According to Paris, it is believed Hannon experienced a mechanical malfunction with the airplane during take-off. The debris has been removed from the crash site.