A pilot who was taking a small group for a tour around the Statue of Liberty on Saturday was forced to make a crash-landing on the Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx when he began having engine trouble.
50-year old Michael Schwartz set the Piper PA28 Cherokee down on the expressway after it apparently stalled in mid-air; witnesses say the plane came so low to the ground that they were afraid of a collision with the cars.
“It was kind of like he was gliding in the air,” driver Jarel Paul said. “I felt like it was going to scrape my car.”
According to the New York Times, Schwartz and his two passengers suffered only minor injuries, largely because a road crew happened to be working on Saturday and had closed two lanes of traffic. They saw the plane having trouble in the air and managed to close the third lane after bringing traffic to a standstill.
“We took out the right and center lane, so the traffic was running slow, and then that gave him enough time to come down,” Bert Troche of the Department of Transportation said. “His motor went dead and he had to find a place to land.”
“Anytime you have an airplane crash and you survive, it’s pretty lucky,” Chief Philip Banks III said, adding that an investigation was already underway.
A hazardous materials team was called in to remove the fuel and hydraulic fuel from the plane and from the road, where the liquid had leaked upon landing. Officials say the major damage was done to the plane’s landing gear.