Remembering deadly plane crash one year later

EAST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A special ceremony will be held in East Haven Saturday to mark the anniversary of a deadly plane crash a short distance away from Tweed-New Haven Airport.

On August 9, 2013, a small plane crashed into a home on Charter Oak Ave. killing two children on the ground and a father and son onboard the aircraft. Over the course of a year a lot has changed. Two new homes now stand in place of the ones that were damaged in the crash. It’s a welcome sight to those who live in the area.

It was a chaotic and tragic scene along Charter Oak Ave. after the twin-engine plane on approach to Tweed Airport fell from the sky, a day neighbors including Edward Tracey won’t soon forget.

PHOTO GALLERY: East Haven Plane Crash

“I heard, like, the explosion sound,” he said. “I went right down there and I’d seen the house on fire.”

The crash killed 13-year-old Shade Brantley and her one year old sister, Madisyn Mitchell. Both were inside one of the homes. The pilot, Bill Henningsgaard, and his son Maxwell, from Washington state were onboard the plane. They also died in the crash. The homes were eventually leveled, and today two new houses stand in their place.

Wreckage of East Haven plane crash, Aug. 9, 2013.
Wreckage of East Haven plane crash, Aug. 9, 2013.

“Seeing the empty space over there, it made you do a lot of thinking about it you know, so I am glad that the houses are there now,” Tracey said.

News 8 spoke with the family who lives on the property where the two young girls were killed.

“We said we don’t have any problem because it happened only one time. not always,” a woman who didn’t give her name said. “We not feeling any negative energy. We are happy.”

The plane crash impacted many different people here in town. That’s why community leaders have organized a special ceremony to take place Saturday morning to remember the four lives lost one year ago.

“You feel like you’re safe at home and your kids are safe at home,and then a plane drops out of the clear blue sky and lands on your house; how horrific is that,” said Rev. Karen Gronback Johnson of Old Stone Church.

Rev. Johnson says anyone is welcome to attend the service. “We thought you know what, it’s really not fitting to let an anniversary like that go by without some remembrance.”

Saturday’s remembrance ceremony will start at 11:30 a.m. at Margaret Tucker Park. It’s directly across from the Old Stone Church in East Haven.

As for the cause of the plane crash, the NTSB tells News 8 the investigation is ongoing.

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