Single engine plane crashes near home in Clinton

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Courtesy: FOX CT Photographer Andy Mihail

CLINTON-  A small plane crashed in Clinton Saturday afternoon, nearly slamming into a home in a quaint residential neighborhood  Saturday afternoon.

Police say a single engine fixed-wing Beechcraft crashed into the woods near Princess Pine Lane and Ironworks Road shortly after 4:00 p.m. Saturday.

The pilot,  Shirley Onacilla,62, of Jersey City, New Jersey was the only one on-board.

Police say Onacilla was flying from Groton- New London Airport to Orange County Airport in Montgomery, New York.

Authorities say shortly after departure, she reported engine trouble to air traffic controllers who diverted her to nearby Chester Airport.

“She just indicated there was an engine shortage, she did not indicate fuel was a concern,” said Clinton Police Sgt. Jermiah Dunn.

The plane departed Groton-New London at 3:57 p.m. and appeared to crash at 4:08 p.m., according to the plane’s flight path on

The plane went down about 8 miles from the Chester airport.

“Unfortunately something catastrophic occurred and she did not make it to Chester and crash landed,” Sgt. Dunn said.

According to Clinton’s First Selectman the plane landed among trees within 150 feet of a home but did not strike any residences.

That  home belonged to Robert Baptista, who was chopping wood in his yard with his father-in-law when the plane crashed.

“I heard a couple of trees getting knocked on the way by, and I looked up and it just stopped,” said Baptista.

Baptista and his father-in-law grabbed their ladder and went closer to the crashed plane.  The ladder was used to reach Onacilla, who remained between two trees high above the ground.

“She was trying to move around, the seat was in her way, we were just trying to help her get out, but did  not want to move her,” said Baptista.

Police say Onacilla was treated and has since been released from Middlesex Memorial Hospital Shoreline in Westbrook, for minor bruises and abrasions suffered in the crash.

The efforts of Robert Baptista, a neighbor who helped a pilot in distress are being credited.

“We can`t thank that gentleman enough. He is to be lauded for his actions,” said Sgt. Dunn.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records list the registered owner as, Shirley’s Express, LLC, of Wilmington, Delaware.

The police will be remaining at the crash scene overnight to secure the scene, until the FAA investigators arrive Sunday morning.

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