BOLINGBROOK – The Federal Airline Administration and National Transportation Safety Board said it's too early to determine the cause of a plane crash that killed two people in Bolingbrook Wednesday evening.
The FAA and NTSB sifted through wreckage before hauling it to a different location in order to determine the cause of the crash. NTSB Investigator Joseph Lindberg said the lack of a black box and extent of fire damage makes matters especially tricky.
"It does become somewhat more difficult because we have less airplane but we can still get what we need," Lindberg said.
The victims of the crash have been identified as a Kentucky surgeon and his wife.
A physician and surgeon of 27 years at Georgetown Community Hospital, Narayan Venguswamy – known affectionately as Dr. Vengu – and his wife, Jay, were flying to the Chicago area from Georgetown, Ky. to attend a medical conference, according to a Georgetown hospital spokeperson.
Narayan Venguswamy was piloting the single-engine prop plane on Wednesday evening when it crashed into a tree, light pole and several vehicles just feet from a Chase Bank bank building, 262 S. Weber Road, around 5:20 p.m.
The site of the crash is just east from Clow International Airport, a privately owned, public-use airport.
Small planes continued to approach the airport as the scene unfolded Wednesday evening.
According to eyewitness accounts, the physician escaped from the wreckage but his wife was trapped inside. Jay Venguswamy was pronounced dead at the scene by the Will County Coroner's Office.
Her husband – who witnesses said was on fire after escaping – was taken to Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, then transferred to Loyola University Medical Center with severe burns. He was pronounced dead at about 5:45 a.m. Thursday by Cook County Medical Examiner.
Aside from the two occupants in the plane, no injuries were reported on the ground, according to the Bolingbrook police Department.
The NTSB investigator explained that officials will continue to interview witnesses and piece together information.
"According to witnesses, [the plane] did land and rolled on the runway and then took off again," Lindberg said.
Recreational pilot and Naperville resident Dave Spears said he was in the air when the crash occurred. Spears, who has been flying small planes for several years, hypothesized that the pilot was trying to land in the wrong direction on Clow Airport Runway 18.
"He was trying to touch down on Runway 18, but the wind was at his back," Spears said. "When you land a plane, you need a headwind to slow you down. I think [the pilot who crashed] either stalled or turned around at the last minute."
It's the second time in five years a plane has crashed in the vicinity of the intersection of Weber Road and Lily Cache Lane. In 2008, a small plane crashed about 100 yards south of the site of Wednesday's crash. There were minor injuries in the Sept. 17, 2008 crash.
Andy's Frozen Custard Manager Mike Grohar was assisting a customer at the ice cream shop neighboring the Chase Bank when he said he saw a male victim, on fire, running from the crash.
"I heard something – a loud blast," Grohar said. "I turned around then saw a man on fire in the parking lot. Two men were helping him – one draped a sweatshirt over him to put out the flames." When Grohar went outside, he said he heard the victim yelling, "Somebody help my wife, somebody help my wife."
Witness Arpagus Poole said she was in the Chase Bank parking lot getting out of her vehicle when the crash occurred. She said she heard a loud boom and felt the heat of the explosion and flames against her face.
"Initially, I didn't know what happened," Poole said. "I just yelled 'Oh my God,' then ran to the neighboring parking lot. It was only then that I saw the wreckage and realized that a plane had crashed in the parking lot."
The crash occurred at the height of rush hour at a busy Bolingbrook intersection.
"It's a sad situation but we're very fortunate with it being rush hour that it wasn't worse," Bolingbrook Police Deputy Chief Tom Ross said.
Authorities said the cause of the crash is unknown, and the FAA will assist in the investigation.