2 brothers injured in N.H. plane crash

In another accident yesterday, a small plane bound for Rhode Island crashes in Connecticut, but the pilot escapes with minor injuries.

By Elizabeth Gudrais
Published in The Providence Journal
April 21, 2005

A plane crash in a coastal New Hampshire town seriously injured two Rhode Islanders yesterday.

Earl A. DeCelles, a 60-year-old North Smithfield resident, was listed in critical condition at Massachusetts General Hospital last night. His brother, Edouard N. DeCelles, who is 64 and lives in Burrillville, was listed in fair condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The single-engine plane piloted by Edouard DeCelles was headed for North Central Airport, in Smithfield, but it went down in North Hampton, N.H., a few minutes before 1 p.m.

Three hours later, in Connecticut, another plane bound for Rhode Island crashed. The only person aboard was the pilot, who was not seriously injured and whom the Connecticut State Police would not identify.

The Piper Cherokee carrying the DeCelles brothers had just taken off from Hampton Airfield, in North Hampton, when it crashed, Federal Aviation Administration Eastern region spokesman Jim Peters said.

Fire destroyed the plane, and Earl DeCelles suffered burns over 70 percent of his body, Peters said.

He said the plane "reportedly lost power" for an unknown reason. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

Hampton Airfield does not have an air-traffic control tower, and Edouard DeCelles had no contact with controllers during takeoff, Peters said.

Hampton Airfield manager George Forrest said the men arrived at the airport around 10 a.m. yesterday and went to a restaurant there, leaving around 12:30.

Peters said he did not know whether the plane came from North Central Airport yesterday, but said he believed it started the morning in Rhode Island.

Flying conditions yesterday, Forrest said, were good - warm, humid, clear, with a southwest wind but "nothing severe."

The DeCelles brothers were first taken to Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire, then transferred to Mass General.

Less than an hour's drive from Boston, North Hampton sits just north of Hampton, N.H., the town that's home to Hampton Beach.

FAA records show the 1976 Piper Cherokee was registered to Edouard DeCelles at a Pascoag post office box address. DeCelles lives at 235 Rock Ave., Pascoag.

Earl DeCelles lives at 389 Iron Mine Hill Rd., North Smithfield.

In the second crash, at 4:03 p.m., a 1980 Beechcraft Bonanza hit power lines as it prepared to make an emergency landing at Waterbury-Oxford Airport, located in central Connecticut, north of Bridgeport and New Haven.

The pilot, whom Peters would not identify, took off from Cuyahoga County Airport in Cleveland bound for T.F. Green Airport in Warwick. The pilot reported to an air-traffic controller in Nashua, N.H., that he'd lost power while cruising at 9,000 feet over Waterbury.

A controller in Westbury, N.Y., on Long Island, was assisting the pilot in an emergency landing when the plane "hit the power lines, burst into flames, and created what witnesses described as a fireball," Peters said.

Despite the dramatic landing, the pilot suffered only minor injuries, Peters said.

The plane was registered to a company called Jest Air LLC, with an address of 4300 Hamann Parkway, Willoughby, Ohio.

In Southbury, Conn., where the plane landed three miles northwest of the airport, 1,300 customers of Connecticut Light & Power lost electric service because of the downed lines, according to Frank Poirot, a spokesman for the electric company. Poirot said that as of 10 p.m., 900 customers were still waiting for restoration of their power, but he expected that to happen by 1 a.m. today.

The Southbury police said the plane didn't hit any structures when it crashed, and no one on the ground was injured.