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New Jersey Plane Crash Kills Manhattan Family

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By Andrew Chow, Esq. on December 20, 2011 12:31 PM

A small plane crashed onto a New Jersey freeway Tuesday morning. Initial reports say three adults and two children on board the plane were killed. No one on the freeway was hurt.

The plane took off from New Jersey's Teterboro Airport and was headed to an airport near Atlanta, an FAA spokesman told New York's WABC-TV. Witnesses say the plane spiraled out of control, slammed into a wooded median strip on Interstate 287 in Morris County, N.J., and exploded about 10 a.m.

"It was like the plane was doing tricks or something, twirling and flipping," one witness told the Associated Press. "I thought any second they were going to pull up. But then the wing came off and they went straight down."

Debris from the New Jersey plane crash was scattered over at least a half-mile area. Part of a wing was found in homeowner's tree about a quarter-mile away, WABC reports.

This Associated Press video clip shows the destruction:

The plane belonged to the pilot, Jeffrey F. Buckalew, 45, of Manhattan, a managing director with Greenhill & Co., an investment banking firm. Buckalew's wife Corinne and the couple's two children were believed to be among the dead, WABC reports. Another Greenhill managing director, Rakesh Chawla, 36, was also on board and was killed.

Federal crash investigators will likely look into cause of the crash, as well as the plane's maintenance records. Depending on what's found, results from the investigation could be used as evidence in a later lawsuit brought by survivors claiming wrongful death or perhaps a product defect. Plane crash lawsuits usually take years to resolve.

Tuesday's New Jersey plane crash caused huge traffic jams along a five-mile stretch of I-287 in Morris County, WABC reports. I-287, also called the Middlesex Freeway, is a heavily used route in the New Jersey suburbs west of New York City.

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