Deadly small plane crash was intentional, investigators say

Firefighters use foam to extinguish the fire of a demolished aircraft after the plane crashed on Main Street in East Hartford Conn., Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016.

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — Federal investigators confirmed Wednesday that a small plane crash that killed one person and injured another in Connecticut on Tuesday happened intentionally.

>> Read more trending stories

Authorities did not elaborate on the motive behind the crash, which happened near the corporate headquarters for aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney. East Hartford police Chief Scott Sansome on Tuesday  described the business as "critical infrastructure."

The National Transportation Safety Board determined the crash appeared to be intentional based on the results of its initial investigation. The FBI is leading the investigation.

Officials said a student pilot and an instructor were attempting to land a Piper PA-34 Seneca at Hartford-Brainard Airport around 4 p.m. when the aircraft hit a utility pole and crashed. Video posted on social media showed the smoldering wreckage.

The pilot suffered serious burns but is expected to survive, WVIT reported. He was taken to a local hospital and is cooperating with investigators.

"He was talking when he left the scene," Sansome said Tuesday.

Citing federal law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, The New York Times reported that the pilot said the crash was not accidental. The newspaper did not elaborate.

The plane's passenger was killed. Officials identified him to the Hartford Courant as Feras M. Freitekh, 28, an Orland Hills, Illinois resident. The Times reported that he was issued a private pilot certificate in May 2015 and had the certification to fly a single-engine plane.

No other deaths were reported.

"The path that the plane took could have been much worse, so we're fortunate in that sense," Sansome said.

Authorities said the plane appeared to have flown from Hartford-Brainard Airport as part of a local flight school, although they did not say which one.

Witnesses described confusion, shock and chaos as the plane went down.

Frank Crandall was driving when he caught sight of the crashing plane. He told the Hartford Courant that he slammed on his brakes before taking off.

"I saw the plane hit the power lines, go into a power pole and then hit just before a minivan and burst into flames," he told the newspaper. "I thought the power lines were going to come down, so I gunned it."

The investigation into the crash continues.