The small New Jersey plane crash on Interstate 287 in Harding near exit 33 on Tuesday killed a family of four and another man, according to reports.
Two Greenhill & Co. managing directors were aboard-45-year-old Jeffrey Buckalew and 36-year-old Rakesh Chawla, along with Buckalew's wife, Corinne, and children, Jackson and Meriweather. According to northjersey.com, The Socata TBM700 aircraft, a single-engine turboprop, was registered to Cool Stream LLC, a corporation formed by Buckalew, and was being piloted on instrument flight rules when air traffic controllers lost contact because the plane disappeared from radar.
The firm is in deep mourning over the tragic and untimely death of two of its esteemed colleagues and members of Jeff's family, said Greenhill & Co. chairman, Robert F. Greenhill, and Scott Bok, Chief Executive Officer in a statement.
Witnesses said the sputtering, smoking plane appeared to maneuver to avoid a dense residential area before crashing into a swampy highway median. They also said that the plane was spiraling out of control, losing pieces, hitting the ground and exploding.
Reports say the flight departed Teterboro Airport at 9 a.m. and was scheduled to arrive at Dekalb Peachtree Airport in Atlanta, Ga. at 11:47 a.m.
Shona Sternberg of Hillsborough, New Jersey told NJ.com that the plane came from the west and smacked down on the highway. Sternberg also said she didn't hear any noises but saw an explosion as soon as the plane made impact.
There was a lot of fire and big black smoke, she said. I could smell burning, burnt rubber. You see something happening, you know it's going to crash and you can't do anything.
Sternberg was driving north on 287 to Madison, New Jersey, when she called from the scene of the crash. She said the plane looked like it was in trouble before it even crashed.
Something was breaking off the plane as it was coming down. It was coming down fast. It looked like the right wing was breaking off.
The highway is closed in both directions, but traffic still moving on both the north and southbound shoulders of the highway, according to the New Jersey State Police Twitter feed.
He did what he could, said Sue Bhende, who was sitting on the deck of her home on Applewood Lane when the plane flew overhead, of Buckalew. The fact he made it onto the median, that's a miracle for everyone.
Watch raw footage from the plane crash below: