CARLSTADT, N.J. (CBS/AP)—Two people are dead after a small jet crashed near an airport in New Jersey on Monday.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, a Learjet 35 departed Philadelphia enroute to Teterboro Airport, when it crashed near the runway in Carlstadt, NJ.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey says the crash happened on Kero Road and Commerce Road around 3:30 p.m., about a ½ mile from Runway 1.
Police say two crew members died in the crash. No passengers were aboard the Learjet 35 when it went down.
According to CBS New York, the jet’s registered owner is A&C Big Sky Aviation LLC in Billings, Montana.
“This is a rescue effort as of now,” said Mayor Craig Lahullier during a press conference at 5 p.m. “Right now the pilot and copilot are categorized as missing.”
Surveillance video from a nearby business shows the moment of impact and then a huge fireball. A man can be seen running across a parking lot toward the crash site as smoke filled the sky.
Emergency responders worked for more than an hour to extinguish the blaze, which left a smoldering wreckage of cars in a parking lot.
“It was like a missile just came down,” one witness told CBS New York. “All the cars were on fire, all the fuel went all over it.”
Mayor Lahullier says there was damage to two building in the area of the crash scene, but no one was injured on the ground.
Town spokesman Joe Orlando said pieces of melted engine could be seen in the charred wreckage, along with wheels and part of the fuselage. Witnesses said they heard loud popping noises, apparently from car tires exploding in the heat and flames.
Orlando had left the public works building about 15 minutes before the jet hit. When he returned, he saw the jet’s engines on the ground.
“If this had happened 20 minutes earlier, people would have been at their cars,” he said. “That was the first thing I thought of: ‘I was just right there.’ You could see the fan blades, the landing gear. Car tires were blown off.”
Steve Case, an entrepreneur and co-founder of AOL, wrote in an Instagram post that the jet appeared to have missed a turn and crashed a few hundred yards from the airport. He was aboard another plane the airport at the time.
A Carlstadt police spokesman said the jet appeared to be listing to its side before it went down.
The National Weather Service warned of strong winds with gusts up to 45 mph (72 kph) just before the jet went down. The cause of the crash was under investigation.
The jet had flown from Teterboro to Bedford, Massachusetts, early Monday morning. It then flew to Philadelphia later Monday morning before leaving for Teterboro around 3 p.m.
Teterboro, which is owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is the oldest operating airport in the New York City area. Situated in a densely populated area just north of MetLife Stadium, where the NFL’s New York Jets and New York Giants play, it is the scene of dozens of takeoffs and landings each day and is a favorite landing spot for corporate and other luxury jets.
The airport was the scene of a 2005 crash: A corporate jet failed to take off, crossed a busy highway and slammed into a warehouse. There were no fatalities, but more than 20 people suffered injuries.
In 2009, a plane taking off from Teterboro crashed into a sightseeing helicopter over the Hudson River, killing all nine people in the two aircrafts. A federal investigation later determined errors by an airport air traffic controller distracted by a personal phone call set the stage for the crash.
The NTSB says they will be investigating Monday’s crash.