On Tuesday afternoon, a student pilot from Jordan, Feras M. Freitekh, crashed a plane near the Pratt and Whitney defense contractor facility in East Hartford, Connecticut. He was in the U.S. on a temporary student visa. The flight instructor, Arian Prevalla, was able to get out of the plane when it crashed, but suffered burns and is currently hospitalized. Freitekh was killed in the crash.
No one on the ground was injured. The instructor claims it was intentional.
Was this intentional?
According to news media, Freitekh had an argument with the instructor just prior to the plane crash an told him that he “didn’t to fly the plane anymore.” It is unclear what that meant. The crash occurred crashed at around 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
“I hear planes every day. I heard a plane, then I didn’t hear anything. I looked up and the plane was just tipping over. It tipped to the left and dropped straight down. There was a loud bang, smoke and flame. It tipped to the left and just dropped like a rock.” Witness Jonathan Rucker to the Hartford Courant
Freitekh was flying a Piper 34 Twin engine aircraft that took off from a flight school Hartford-Brainard airport. He was licensed to fly single engine aircraft, so had a flight instructor with him.
He was in the states since 2012 under an M-1 student visa that was recently changed to an F-1 status.
Pratt and Whitney is regarded as “critical infrastructure ” because they manufacture jet engines for the US military and civilian aircraft. They issued this statement:
“We are aware of the incident that occurred this afternoon on Main Street. Our thoughts are with the people affected. It does not appear at this time that any Pratt & Whitney employees or contractors were involved. Additionally, there is no impact to our operation here in East Hartford other than restricted traffic flow to the facility’s main entrance on Main Street. We stand ready to assist local officials as needed. Additional queries should be directed to the appropriate local officials.”
Police are actively investigating the incident, and have not ruled out terrorism as a possible motive. The surviving pilot claims that the crash was intentional – the flight school states that either pilot could have had control of the aircraft.
Law Enforcement executed a search warrant at Freitekh’s residence, where 3 other foreign males resided – all of whom were studying to become pilots. The other males were released after questioning. Police stated they found no evidence of connection to terror groups.
Frank Crandall, who works nearby, saw the plane go down. Took this picture: pic.twitter.com/Codan8ew3B
— Nick Rondinone (@nickrondinone) October 11, 2016
— Peter Wilson (@PetesWire) October 12, 2016