Plane crashes into home in crowded Joliet subdivision; pilot killed

JOLIET – A small plane crashed into a home in suburban Joliet Thursday afternoon, killing the pilot. The homeowner, Patti Daniel, was at home watching TV when a real-life drama exploded into her dining room.

“I heard some loud noise, I didn’t know if it was a motorcycle or a car, and it just kept getting louder,” Daniel said. “Next thing I knew the whole side of the dining room just blew open.”

Luckily, neither Daniel nor anyone in her crowded neighborhood were injured. Now federal investigators are trying to figure out why the plane went down.

Witnesses say the plane went into a violent tailspin around 11:15 a.m. Thursday, resembling a tornado as it tumbled out of the sky.

Harriet Nagajew was cleaning out her pool about three blocks away when she noticed a small plane flying unusually low.

“All of a sudden I heard this pop, and a piece of the engine fell out, and then the plane started to – well, it started to glide – and then he started to spiral, and then he hit the ground,” Nagajew said.

Originally departing from Florida, the twin-engine Piper PA-30 was stopped over in Tennessee and was headed to Oshkosh, Wisconsin when something catastrophic happened over Joliet, according to federal authorities.

The plane crashed near the intersection of Bedford and Hampton, smashing into the home before hitting the pavement.

“We are very fortunate to have a plane crash in a crowded residential neighborhood like this and not have any additional injuries, it’s amazing,” reflected Joliet Police Chief Brian Benton.

Neighbor Jeremy Nelson said the impact of the crash felt like “somebody hitting my house.”

“Pieces of the plane started to fall off, and I know there’s a couple of pieces of the plane over in the neighborhood around here, and near the Wal-Mart, there’s also part of the engine,” Nelson said.

The plane belonged to a man from West Palm Beach, Florida. Authorities confirmed the pilot was killed and said there may have been one other passenger on board. No one has been identified yet.

The National Transportation Safety Board has taken over the investigation, and will try to determine whether factors like the pilot’s health, weather, or maintenance of the plane contributed to the crash.