Pilot Confirmed Dead, No Injuries Reported in House
“It sounded like he was trying to restart his motor. It was coming down so fast,” an eyewitness tells Patch of the Chicago-area crash.
PLAINFIELD, IL — A small plane crashed into a home in the middle of a densely populated Plainfield-Joliet subdivision Thursday, killing the pilot and setting a house and its surrounding yard ablaze but somehow causing no injuries on the ground, authorities said.
The house was occupied by a woman and her dog, but both made it out unharmed, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune.
Joliet Fire Department Battalion Chief John Stachelski confirmed that the pilot of the plane has died but was unable to say if more people were on board.
A spokesperson at the Joliet Fire Department said the crash occurred at Chestnut Hill Road and Bedford Drive in the Brighton Lakes subdivision, which has a Plainfield mailing address but is under the jurisdiction of the Joliet Fire and Police Department. Units are working on the scene.
Joliet Fire Department Battalion Chief Jeff Carey said no residents inside the home were injured at the time of the crash.
“They did a search of it, and nobody was inside,” Carey said.
“It sounds like it broke up in a few different pieces,” Carey said of the plane. “There was different debris from [Route] 59 and Theodore [Street] all the way to house. It sounds like it might have lost a piece and then came down.”
Stachelski said it appears the house fire was not from the plane striking it, but that is still under investigation.
Firefighters arrived on the scene shortly after 11 a.m. Thursday and cleared the area at around 2:30 p.m. Only fire investigators are now there, he said.
The Joliet Police Department is asking residents to stay away from the crash site.
“At approximately 11:15, a small plane went down in the area of Theodore and Brighton,” Joliet police said on Facebook. “Please seek alternative routes near Rt. 59 and Theodore, and Theodore and River Rd while the crash is investigated.”
FAA Spokesman Tony Molinaro said the plane was a small aircraft, but the type is unknown at this time. It is also unknown where the plane was heading and from where it took off.
“The FAA has sent a team to the crash site in Plainfield to determine the type of aircraft and to begin an investigation,” Molinaro said in an email to Patch. “The FAA will gather information and pass it to the NTSB [National Transportation Safety Board], which is the agency that will lead the investigation and will determine the probable cause of the accident.”
Plainfield resident Mike Maksimik said there was a storm cloud overhead and it was just starting to rain when the crash occurred.
“The plane appeared to move right out of the storm cloud,” Maksimik wrote on Facebook. “It’s a gamble whether it was a lightning strike on the plane that killed (its) engine, but there was a definite crash of thunder before the actual boom from the explosion.”
Maksimik told Patch the actual site of the crash is 1812 Hampton Court.
“The plane missed my house and the trees (and) went over the pond and crashed,” he told Patch.
His brother, Andrew Maksimik, said he was fishing at the time of the crash.
“I thought it was lightning or thunder,” he told Patch, “but it was this airplane flying overhead very low. It sounded like he was trying to restart his motor. It was coming down so fast.”
The plane skimmed the house, hit the ground and exploded, Maksimik said.
“I could feel the heat of it,” he said.
Maksimik said the crash point was on the sidewalk and that the explosion was probably what ignited the home.
“It wasn’t damaged on the roof or anything. It was probably 20 feet away from the home. The flames were so wide they ignited the plastic siding of the home,” he said.
Maksimik is a Dyre, Indiana, resident but was in the area visiting.
Plainfield is around 38 miles southwest of Chicago.