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Friday, February 13, 2009


A Continental Airlines flight crashed into a home near Buffalo Thursday night leaving 50 people dead.

Authorities say the commuter plane was carrying 49 people: 44 passengers and four crew members. Another previously unaccounted passenger, a Colgan Air employee, was also aboard. One person on the ground was also killed. Continental Airlines flight 3407 was operated by Colgan Air and had taken off from Newark, N.J.

Authorities say it was on its final approach to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport when it crashed into a house on Long Street in Clarence Center at about 10:20 p.m. Thursday. Clarence is just northeast of Buffalo. Initial reports show that the pilot didn't express concerns about anything being out of the ordinary before controllers lost contact with the aircraft.

The flight crew were identified as Captain Marvin Renslow, who had flown 3,379 hours with Colgan Air.

Also on the flight:

• First Officer Rebecca Shaw

• Flight Attendant Matilda Quintero

• Flight Attendant Donna Prisco

• Captain Joseph Zuffoletto, an off-duty crew member, was also aboard flight 3407.

A PASSENGER LIST OF CONTINENTAL FLIGHT 3407 is not available as of yet. Unfortunately everyone on CONTINENTAL FLIGHT 3407 is reported dead.

According to early reports, Flight 3407 operated by Colgan Air departing from Newark abruptly lost contact with air traffic control before crashing about five miles from its destination, Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Ice build-up on the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 74-seat turboprop may also have been to blame; in tapes released last night, air traffic control can be heard checking with other flight crews before vainly attempting to contact the pilot of Flight 3407.

Passengers included a Jacksonville, Florida law student and a September 11 widow who listened to her husband via cell phone while he was in the south tower. This is the first fatal crash in the U.S. since August 2006. An investigation into the crash site has been delayed while the wreckage is still burning.

It was the first commercial fatal aviation crash in the United States in more than two years.

Erie County Executive Chris Collins held a 4:00 a.m. press conference and calls the scene "surreal." He says the aircraft apparently exploded on impact creating a massive fire with huge flames. The home is next to a firehouse so emergency personnel were quick to respond. Hundreds of rescue workers from dozens of local agencies responded.
Millard Fillmore Suburban, a Kaleida Health facility, is treating two female residents from Long Street where the plane crashed. They were transported by ambulance to the hospital at approximately 11:35 p.m., with non-life threatening injuries.

The crash site is not far from the town's business district. The owners of The Perfect Gift, who also live in Clarence, said it sounded like the plane came right over their house, which is approximately two blocks from the crash site.

"It was very loud, like it was flying very low," said Nick Tangelder, whose wife Deborah owns the retail store. He says the crash site is directly behind The Perfect Gift, about 150 yards away from the building.

Authorities say the plane crashed directly into a home on Long Street. "It's incredible," Tangelder said. "Those lots are only 60 feet wide."

Tangelder expects the situation to impact or possibly close businesses in Clarence Center today. The area is under a limited state of emergency and Clarence Schools are closed today.

The National Transportation Safety Board was expected to begin its investigation of the crash early Friday morning as soon as the rubble cools off enough to begin sifting through looking for clues. Bombardier confirms the plane was a Dash 8 Q400 aircraft. The Canadian-based manufacturer has dispatched a safety and technical team to the site to assist the National Transportation Safety Board with their investigation.

Flight 3407 was one of seven incoming Continental flights scheduled for the Buffalo Niagara International Airport Thursday. The Buffalo airport handles a total of 110 daily flights from all carriers. According to the 2009 Business First Book of Lists, Continental had just over 1 percent of the 2007 market share at the airport. Continental Express had 4.4 percent. Together, they offered nearly seven thousand flights to and from BNIA and served more than 300,000 annual passengers.

Financially, Continental is struggling with volatile fuel prices and a slowdwon from the weak economy. The latest numbers show that Continental posted losses of $585 million for 2008.

Here is a list from the Associated press listed all the airline crashes with fatalities since 1995. Oddly, this list neglected to include the 911 crashes.

A list of airline accidents with fatalities in the U.S. since 1995 and before Thursday's crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 into a home in suburban Buffalo, N.Y., which killed 48 on the plane and one on the ground:

_ Aug. 27, 2006: Comair Flight 5191 crashed on takeoff from Lexington, Ky.'s Blue Grass Airport, killing 49 of the 50 people aboard. It was bound for Atlanta.

_ Oct. 19, 2004: Corporate Airlines Flight 5966 crashed in woods as it approached an airport in Kirksville, Mo., killing 13 of the 15 people on board. The plane was on a regular route from St. Louis. Federal investigators blamed pilot error.

_ Jan. 8, 2003: US Airways Express Flight 5481 crashed shortly after leaving the Charlotte, N.C., airport for Greer, S.C. All 19 passengers and the two crew members were killed. The NTSB determined that incorrect rigging of the plane's elevator control system caused the plane to lose pitch control during takeoff, resulting in the crash.

_ Nov. 12, 2001: American Airlines Flight 587 crashed in the Rockaways section of New York City, killing all 265 aboard. The John F. Kennedy International Airport flight was bound for the Dominican Republic.

_ Jan. 31, 2000: Alaska Airlines Flight 261 spiraled into the Pacific Ocean off Port Hueneme, Calif., on a flight from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to San Francisco and Seattle. All 88 people aboard died.

_ July 17, 1996: TWA Flight 800 exploded near East Moriches, N.Y., shortly after takeoff, killing 230 board. The flight was headed to Paris from John F. Kennedy International Airport.

_ May 11, 1996: Atlanta-bound ValuJet Flight 592 crashed into the Florida Everglades shortly after takeoff, killing 110 people.

_ Dec. 20, 1995: American Airlines Flight 965 from Miami crashed 38 miles north of Cali, Colombia, during descent, killing 159 people. Four passengers survived.

_ Aug. 21, 1995: Southeast Airlines Flight 529, a commuter flight from Atlanta to Mississippi, crashed during an emergency landing in a hayfield near Carrolton, Ga., killing eight of the 29 people aboard. A propeller blade broke off mid-flight, causing the aircraft to lose control.

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