Funeral for victims of East Haven plane crash held - CBS46 News

Funeral for victims of East Haven plane crash held

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NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) -

As investigators continue to piece together the tragic plane crash in East Haven last Friday, the two sisters who were killed inside their home have been laid to rest.

Funeral held for teen, baby killed in plane crash

A two-hour funeral service was held for 13-year-old Sade Brantley and 1-year-old Madisyn Mitchell.

Gov. Dannel Malloy, United States Sen. Richard Blumenthal and other officials were in attendance along with grieving family and friends. Firefighters from East Haven and other cities and towns from across the state were also there to show support for the family.

Robert Middleton is the brother of the girls' mother, JoAnn Mitchell, and he's also a pastor. He led the service and said the family is devastated, but they have been motivated by the outpouring of support.

"Seeing the babies in the coffin, that broke my heart," Middleton said.

The memorial outside the two homes on Charter Oak Avenue continues to grow, and for many in the neighborhood, so does the need to know what caused a plane to crash into the two homes, killing four people.

Around 11:30 a.m. Aug. 9, a plane coming in for a landing at nearby Tweed-New Haven Airport slammed into the two homes, killing the two girls in one of them.

The pilot, 54-year-old Bill Henningsgaard, a retired Microsoft executive from Washington State, and his son, 17-year-old Maxwell, were also killed.

There were tributes to the little girls by close family friends. They said that Sade was on her way to success.

"Most recently, Sade received the excellence in science and language arts and excellence in math award," one speaker said.

While Madisyn loved to get people going and laughed often.

"I didn't get a chance to say goodbye," said Quincy O'Neal. "I really wish I had a chance to."

JoAnn Mitchell was surrounded by family Friday as they held her tight while the ceremony took place.

"She's doing the best she can. It's going to take time," Middleton said. "It takes time for this kind of thing."

Middleton shared a moment he believes is helping their mother. Madisyn's cousin gave her a dollar bill, which she never let out of her sight. The family found the dollar in the burned out home.

"And this note was left for the momma, so she would know we're in a good place," Middleton said.

It was also a difficult day for the firefighters who responded that day. East Haven firefighters lined the stairs to the church earlier to show their support.

The New Haven Fire Department had a big turnout too. Three of their firefighters are related to the two victims.

The investigation into the plane crash continues

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board hope to have a preliminary report out next week. So far, they said the plane landed upside down as it crashed into the two homes, sparking a massive fire. The NTSB also said there was never a distress call. It said Henningsgaard was in contact with the control tower seconds before the crash.

As for the two homes, the initial plan was to tear them down earlier this week. But officials are still working out the final details with the insurance companies to determine the best way to knock down the homes because they are so unstable.

"The town of East Haven is working diligently with all of the insurance companies involved to ensure that the two damaged homes are demolished safely and expeditiously. All indications are that the homeowners' insurance companies are seeking to have the properties demolished and remediated by the middle of next week," said East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr.

Maturo said he has been in contact with the state officials and Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection on the demolition of the homes.

"The town understands that the homes are a painful reminder of this tragedy and that their demolition is a critical first step in the healing process for the families and for the neighborhood as a whole," Maturo said.

"In the coming days, the town will continue to do all that it can to facilitate the speedy demolition of these properties so that the affected families and the neighborhood can begin to move on from this heartbreaking tragedy," he added.

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