- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2003

GROTON, Conn. (AP) — A small-business jet crashed into three houses yesterday, setting two of them on fire, then cartwheeled into a river less than a mile short of an airport. Both persons aboard the plane were killed, authorities said.

Nobody on the ground was seriously hurt, although one woman was treated for minor injuries after she jumped out a window of her home, Poquonnock Bridge Fire Marshal Michael Richards said. Thirteen persons were either left homeless or told they could not return to nearby homes yesterday.

The Learjet was approaching the airport when it slammed into the homes in the Poquonnock River Bridge section of Groton.

“People were running down the street, and all I could see was blazing fire and smoke and people running up and down the street,” said Pauleatha Glover, 55. “It was an explosion, you know, I thought somebody had blown up the Poquonnock River Bridge.”

Marshal Richards said the plane clipped a vacant home before cutting through two others and setting them on fire. The plane broke apart, and the pieces landed in the river, he said.

Ross Finlayson, 17, said he saw the plane hit the houses and a riverside walkway in the residential area.

“It did a cartwheel,” Mr. Finlayson said. “It exploded. It clipped over the top of that house and went right through the next house.”

Police did not immediately release the names of those on board.

Gloria Aldana leaped from her burning home when the plane hit her one-story house, her husband said. She was treated at a local hospital.

“She got panicked and jumped out the window,” Edwin Aldana said. “She’s doing OK.”

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