1 dead, 1 injured in Romeoville plane crash

June 27, 2011 4:51:42 AM PDT
One person was killed and another was seriously injured when a single-engine plane went down near Lewis University Airport in suburban Romeoville.

The plane took down power lines when it crashed and caused outages that affected 1,000 ComEd customers. Because of live wires, ComEd had to turn the power off before emergency crews were able to help the pilot and the passenger.

All power was restored by early Sunday evening.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the plane took off from Brook Rdge Air Park in Downers Grove and witnesses say it looked like the plane had problems and was hoping to land at the Lewis University Airport.

But, it never made it. The owner of the Cessna 210 plane killed its owner, 68-year-old Victor Pantaleo. Hours after it crashed, the plane was removed from the lawn of the St. Charles Borromeo Pastoral Center.

It was about 2:30 p.m. when Wayne Brown and Vince Piazza looked up in the air and saw a small plane in a slow descent.

"We looked up, the plane couldn't have been more than 25 feet above our head on a steady downward hill," Brown said.

"You could tell it was going down," Piazza said. "As it was going down, it was a steady descent. It was kind of wobbling back and forth."

Watching from a used car lot just a few feet away, Brown and Piazza heard the plane crash as it clipped power lines on its way down.

"We heard the initial first hit on a tree and then we heard a crash on the power lines explode back, and by the time that was all happening, we were turning the corner, the first one on the scene," Brown said.

The men say they immediately called 911 and ran to the plane to help, but couldn't.

"It was a helpless feeling because we couldn't get to plane. There was power lines on it and there was fuel that we smelled," Brown said.

"We noticed that the power lines were down on top of the small-engine aircraft. There were two male subjects aboard the aircraft. Both, at the time, were still alive," Romeoville Police Sgt. Brian Bulmann.

Witnesses say the pilot was unconscious. His passenger was screaming for help.

"The passenger was, like I said, half ejected out of the plane, so he was still seat-belted in but half out of it, because it took most of the hit on the passenger's side. And he was moaning and groaning and screaming to get out of the plane and the police officer told him to hold tight because the power lines were all hot and they had to wait for ComEd to come and shut the power lines off," Piazza said.

FAA officials say the plane owner Victor Pantaleo died at the hospital, but they do not know if the 68-year-old was piloting the plane or if he was the passenger.

The cause of the crash is still unknown.

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