EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A flight instructor and a student pilot had an altercation inside the cockpit of a small plane, and the instructor was unable to regain control from the trainee before the plane crashed near the headquarters of a military jet engine manufacturer, killing the student, a U.S. official familiar with the investigation into what happened said Wednesday.
On LinkedIn, Prevalla said he received a bachelor’s degree in aviation science from Mountain State University, a now-defunct university in Beckley, West Virginia.
Freitekh lived in the Chicago suburb of Orland Hills since 2013 and received a private pilot certificate last year from the Federal Aviation Administration, public records show.
Safety officials said the FBI was taking over as lead investigator of the crash because of indications it was an intentional act.
The National Transportation Safety Board said its initial investigation indicated the crash was deliberate. An agency spokesman said he couldn’t elaborate on the basis of that finding.
The survivor told police detectives it was not an accident, Democratic Mayor Marcia Leclerc said.
“It’s troubling,” Leclerc said. “But I also know that stories change and information can be skewed. We’re waiting for the facts to come out.”
Authorities said the student and the instructor were about to land at Brainard Airport when the plane struck a utility pole and crashed onto a road Tuesday afternoon, bursting into flames. The crash site is a short distance from the airport, across the Connecticut River and in line with the runway.
Police Chief Scott Sansom said the path the plane took “could have been much worse.”
“So we’re very fortunate in that sense,” he said.
The police chief initially asked the FBI to assist in the investigation because it happened so close to Pratt & Whitney. The company said its operations weren’t affected by the crash and none of its employees was involved.
Police said Prevalla was hospitalized with serious burns and is expected to live. The medical examiner’s office was expected to perform an autopsy on Freitekh.
In Hartford, local, state and federal authorities were investigating an apartment in connection with the plane crash, police Deputy Chief Brian Foley said. He did not release further details, including why the apartment was being investigated.
Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, briefed by the state police commissioner, said he had not decided to beef up security anywhere in light of the crash.
“I’m not aware of any specific threats associated with this action,” Malloy said. “If I was, then we would take those steps.”
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