Victims Identified In Bradley Plane Crash

Oct 3, 2019

Connecticut officials have identified the victims of the crash of a B-17G bomber at Bradley International Airport. 

There were 13 people on board, and one person on the ground at the site of the crash.

Public safety Commissioner James Rovella said seven people on board are deceased, or presumed to be deceased. 

That includes two crew members, Ernest McCauley, 75, of Long Beach, California; and Michael Foster, 71, of Jacksonville, Florida. Flight engineer Mitchell Melton, 34, of Dalhart, Texas, survived with injuries.

The five passengers who officials say are dead or presumed dead are David Broderick, 56, of West Springfield, Massachusetts; Gary Mazzone, 66, of Broad Brook, Connecticut; James Roberts, 48, of Ludlow, Massachusetts; Robert Riddell, 59, of East Granby, Connecticut; and Robert Rubner, 64, of Tolland, Connecticut.

Five other passengers survived with injuries, as well as the one airport personnel on the ground. 

The vintage plane crashed Wednesday as it was attempting an emergency landing shortly after takeoff.

The Connecticut Air National Guard says an airman who was aboard the plane opened a hatch that allowed some passengers to escape a fire. The Guard said Thursday the airman, James Traficante, 54, of Simsbury, Connecticut, has training and experience in handling emergencies on aircraft. After the crash, he was said to have used flame-retardant flight gloves he had brought with him to open the hatch. 

Traficante suffered injuries and has been recovering at home since his release from a hospital Wednesday evening. He is currently command chief for the 103rd Airlift Wing.

Investigation has begun into cause of crash

An official from the National Transportation Safety Board said it's too early to say if all 16 B-17G aircraft registered with the Federal Aviation Administration should be grounded.

"We're still at the very initial stages of this investigation. We'll have to determine that at the appropriate time, if applicable at all," Jennifer Homendy, a board member with the NTSB, told reporters Thursday.

Jennifer Homendy of the NTSB and investigator Dan Bower at the scene Wednesday of the plane crash at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut.
Credit NTSB

 

Homendy was among the NTSB officials in Windsor Locks investigating the crash. She said going back to 1982, her agency has investigated 21 accidents involving World War II-era bombers, not counting the one that crashed Wednesday. In those previous accidents, she said, 21 people died.

Homendy said the pilot, Ernest McCauley, had flown with the foundation that owned the plane for over 20 years and had flown the bombers for 7,300 hours.

Investigators have begun securing evidence, including the engine in which the pilot had reported a problem. Homendy said they also will look into witness reports that work was being done on one or two of the engines prior to takeoff.

NEPR's Jill Kaufman contribute to this report, which includes information from The Associated Press.