2 rescued after plane drops into Quinnipiac River in New Haven

NEW HAVEN — A man, woman and a large dog were rescued Thursday evening after a small plane dropped into the Quinnipiac River, according to officials.

Good Samaritans operating two boats in the marina saved the passengers from the water, according to New Haven’s Director of Emergency Operations, Rick Fontana.

The three’s trip originated in Wellington, Fla. They stopped in Woodbine, N.J. and were on their way to New Bedford, Mass., when the crash occurred, according to Fontana and New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker.

The plane’s passengers appeared to be uninjured.

Officials are concerned about the environmental impact of the crash, as the single-engine 1988 Beechcraft Bonanza landed on sensitive oyster beds, Elicker said.

Fontana said the passengers started experiencing engine trouble at around 7,000 feet.

The pilot radioed the tower at Tweed New Haven Airport saying that he was in distress and the engine was sputtering. Sean Scanlon, the executive director of Tweed New Haven Airport, said the pilot made a personal decision to land the plane, fearing he could not make it to Tweed.

“It was a very difficult situation for him and I think he made a very good decision,” Scanlon said.

Landing a plane in the river is not an easy thing to do, according to Scanlon.


“Obviously, he is a pretty skilled pilot,” he added.

New Haven Assistant Fire Chief Justin McCarthy said the plane came to a safe landing just north of the Grand Avenue Bridge. The two freed themselves and their dog from the aircraft and stood in the shallow water on a sand bar, he added.

The passengers were medically evaluated on land. McCarthy said they were “a little shaken up,” but other than that, they were not experiencing any issues.