Shirley Plane Crash That Killed 2 Under Investigation


Federal investigators are trying to determine why a small plane crash landed on a residential side street in Shirley shortly after take off, killing two and injuring a third person aboard Sunday morning.

An investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board is on the scene where the plane went down on Helene Avenue at 11:55 a.m. Sunday after taking off from nearby Brookhaven Calabro Airport. No one on the ground was injured.

Suffolk County police said David J. McElroy, 53, of Orient, was pronounced dead at the scene. Officials did not say who was flying the plane at the time.


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Jane Unhjem, 60, of Goshen, New York, died shortly later. Her 61-year-old husband, Erik, is being treated for serious injuries at Stony Brook University Medical Center.

“I was playing baseball and I saw a plane flying really low coming very close to the top of nearby trees,” said Steven Pileggi, a 30-year-old Lake Grove man who was at Dowling College’s Brookhaven campus at the time. “Moments later, as the pitcher was throwing we heard a loud boom and saw black clouds of smoke.”

Residents who live nearby reportedly tried to put out the flames with fire extinguishers and garden hoses to no avail.

The Federal Aviation Administration is also investigating what caused the Socata TB10, a single-engine, propeller plane, to crash. Records show that the plane is registered to a Florida man, the FAA said.

An NTSB spokesman said it could take some time to determine the cause.

The front of the plane ended up about 100 feet from the nearest house and its tail plunged into a nearby construction trash bin, witnesses said. The crash tore down a tree and damaged a car.

The plane was covered up later Sunday as police and firefighters converged on the crash scene and blocked off the road.

Homicide Squad detectives are also investigating.

-With Associated Press.

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