NORTH LIDENHURST, Long Island (WABC) — The pilot of the plane crash that killed a 63-year-old mother and injured her 33-year-old daughter on Long Island has been identified.
Authorities say 23-year-old Faizul Chowdhury was at the helm of the flight.
The plane crashed near 5th Street and North Wellwood Avenue in Lindenhurst while flying into Republic Airport in Farmingdale Sunday afternoon.
The FAA reports that the aircraft departed from Republic Airport for an inspection tour.
Chowdhury soon gave the mayday signal and reported that there was smoke in the cabin.
The plane then turned toward the airport to make an emergency landing, but crashed — about 300 feet south of the nearest LIRR tracks.
“The plane is completely destroyed and on fire. I see people running. It seems to me that they are trying to help them,” said the pilot on the ATC radio recording.
According to a lawyer for the flight school at Republic Airport, the pilot is a licensed certified pilot from the Bronx.
He received burns on 75% of his body.
The two passengers were a 63-year-old mother, identified as Roma Gupta of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, and her 33-year-old daughter Reeva Gupta, who purchased tickets for the tour through Groupon.
The attorney said the plane recently underwent a 100-hour inspection.
Roma Gupta was pronounced dead at the scene. Riva Gupta and Chowdhury were airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital, where they remain in critical condition.
Eyewitness News spoke with neighbor Chris Baldasano, who filmed his block after the crash.
He said the crash happened so close to his home that he not only heard the crash, but also felt the impact inside his home.
“I ran to the front of the house and saw a ball of fire and a column of smoke,” Baldasano said. “I ran outside and made sure everyone was out downstairs.”
Baldassano believes the plane clipped the tree line bordering the railroad tracks before it crashed.
There was wreckage everywhere and the smoke was so thick it was hard to see. One house is still taped up as plane parts lie in the backyard.
Neighbors say the planes are coming so close to their homes that they fear they might crash into the houses.
And they say that lately planes are getting bigger and flying lower.
Kelly Watson said planes fly so low on approach to the airport that her house shakes.
“We only heard two explosions,” Watson said. “The house just shook. Yes, the house shook, it was very strong, and we were like that, and we were looking out the window, and after one explosion, I screamed at my husband, and before we knew it, he didn’t even make it to the living room, another loud blast.”
When she left the house after the crash, she said she heard one of the victims screaming frantically for her mother.
The pilot was alert and conscious when first responders arrived and was able to tell them how many people were on board.
The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating what may have caused the crash.
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