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Funeral Friday for sisters killed in Connecticut plane crash

August 16, 2013 5:29:50 AM PDT
A teenage girl and her 1-year-old sister who died when an airplane crashed into their Connecticut home last week will be laid to rest Friday, a relative said.

The funeral for 13-year-old Sade Brantley and 1-year-old Madisyn Mitchell is scheduled for 10 a.m. at Trinity Temple Church of God in Christ in New Haven, according to their aunt Lawanda Middleton.

A 10-seat, propeller-driven plane piloted by former Microsoft executive Bill Henningsgaard struck two homes in East Haven while approaching Tweed New Haven Airport shortly before 11:30 a.m. Friday. Henningsgaard, 54, of Medina, Wash., and his 17-year-old son, Maxwell, also died in the accident.

The cause of the crash remained under investigation. Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board said the plane, a Rockwell International Turbo Commander 690B, was upside down when it hit the houses at a 60-degree angle, and the pilot didn't declare an emergency before the crash. A preliminary NTSB report is expected within two weeks.

The two heavily damaged homes, which caught fire after the accident, were expected to be torn down.

Middleton, who runs a church in Hamden with her husband, said Monday that her family wasn't releasing any information but may do so later.

"My family's just grieving right now," she said.

After the crash, the children's mother, Joann Mitchell, yelled for help from the front lawn and some people in the neighborhood tried to rescue the children, but were forced to turn back because of the fire. No one was in the other house at the time of the accident.

Funeral information wasn't available Monday for Henningsgaard and his son.

It was the second plane crash for Henningsgaard, a highly regarded philanthropist and a member of Seattle-based Social Venture Partners, a foundation that helps build up communities. In 2009, he was flying a small plane to Seattle with his mother aboard when the engine quit. He crash-landed in the Columbia River.

Henningsgaard spent 14 years at Microsoft in marketing and sales, according to his biography on the Social Venture Partners website.

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