One person is dead and another hospitalized after a small plane crashed Wednesday afternoon into a bank parking lot near Clow Airport in Bolingbrook, according to Bolingbrook police.
Lt. Michael Rompa said in an email the crash occurred around 5:15 p.m. at 262 S. Weber Road near a Chase bank. During a brief news conference, he said the plane crashed into a tree, a light pole and several vehicles near the bank, near the corner of Weber Road and Lily Cache Lane.
Rompa said the two victims are a middle-aged couple, including a man who was taken to Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital and then taken to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood for burn treatment.
A representative from the Will County coroner's office declared the woman dead at 6:45 p.m. An autopsy will be conducted Thursday morning. No names were released Wednesday night.
"The pilot was trying to land at Clow International Airport," Rompa said, adding that the plane is unrecognizable. "At this time of day, during rush hour, we're very fortunate there wasn't a large amount of casualties or injuries."
The Federal Aviation Administration said the single-engine plane originated from Scott County Marshall Field in Georgetown, Ky., and had two passengers on board.
Witnesses said they saw flames and heard small explosions when the plane crashed.
Connor Hale was stopped at a red light on Weber Road while driving home from Bolingbrook High School when he saw the plane traveling east.
"Things fly overhead above my neighborhood all the time. But at that low altitude I knew something was wrong, and the way it was wobbling, it was crazy," he said.
Hale said he wasn't sure if the plane was going to crash, but if it did, he was hoping it would land in a field near the bank. He said the plane circled around and started heading west, toward the airfield, when it hit something and nose-dived.
"Right when it crashed there was a whole bunch of flames and black smoke," he said.
George Steimer, owner of WineStyles, a store in a strip mall across the street from the bank, said he heard the sound of a struggling engine. "You knew something was wrong somewhere," he said.
Then he saw the plane coming down at a high rate of speed and hit a light pole in the bank parking lot.
"When it was coming in, the wing hit the pole and then the plane tilted and just crashed," he said.
Steimer said after the crash he saw a person come out of the plane engulfed in flames with their arms in the air.
"It was horrendous," he said.
Mike Grohar, manager at Andy's Frozen Custard just north of the crash site, said he didn't hear anything when the plane crashed. He was taking orders when a co-worker said a man outside was on fire.
Grohar rushed out to help but two other people had already put the fire out. While he was on ground, the injured man started asking about his wife.
"He just kept asking us to get his wife out of the plane," Grohar said. "I got as close as I could. The plane was engulfed in flames. I couldn't get any closer than where we were."
The cause of the crash is still unknown and emergency personnel remain on the scene. The Federal Aviation Administration said a full investigation will take several months to a year to complete.
In 2008, a small plane made a safe emergency landing just south of the area where Wednesday's crash occurred.