Seaplane Crashes into Restaurant; At Least Five Dead
Aug. 26, 1995
NEW SHOREHAM, R.I. (AP) _ A seaplane crashed into a restaurant and exploded Saturday while trying to land near an island beach, killing at least five people and forcing customers to dive for safety.
The single-engine plane was heading toward the waters off Fred Benson State Beach on Block Island when it crashed into a car in front of G.R. Sharkeys and skidded into the restaurant.
The plane exploded, destroying the single-story, wood-frame building, which also houses a gas station.
``I just finished paying for a hamburger when the thing came in. Three seconds later it exploded. It was awesome,'' said Kyle Jorgenson, who was visiting from Connecticut.
Five people were killed in the crash, according to Coast Guard Lt. Tim Carton in Boston. He said information on the number of dead came from a Coast Guard search and rescue detachment working at the scene.
Witnesses said the two people on the plane were killed along with two people in the car.
Peter Wood, editor of The Block Island Times, was at the scene minutes after the crash. ``It looked like a war zone,'' he said.
Two men in the restaurant saw the plane coming and dove for safety, he said.
``One hurled himself into the bathroom and another dove out the front door,'' Wood said.
The plane apparently was trying to land about 300 yards off shore, beyond a breakwater, witnesses told Wood. It touched down once, bounced and the pilot apparently tried to abort the landing. The plane skipped off the water, went over some power lines on shore and slammed into the car.
The restaurant and gas station are about 100 yards from shore in New Shoreham, the island's main town.
The 10-square-mile island about 12 miles off the Rhode Island coast has about 800 full-time residents but its population swells to as many as 10,000 on summer weekends when ferries from Rhode Island, Connecticut and Long Island shuttle visitors out.