Jordanian Muslim Feras M. Freitekh came to the United States on a temporary visa in 2012 to attend flight school. On Tuesday, October 12, he crashed a small aircraft into a utility pole in East Hartford, Connecticut, near Pratt & Whitney, a major defense contractor. While this story is still developing, new facts are coming out: the badly injured surviving passenger, who is a flight instructor, told the press that this crash was not an accident. Feras M. Freitekh himself died in the crash.
Though this might or might not be another case of mental illness or “Islamophobia,” it is important to note that the FBI is now involved in the case. They have since raided an apartment in Hartford where Freitekh lived, along with three other foreign nationals who are also studying to become pilots. It also remains unclear as to why Freitekh chose to come to the United States in the first place, as Jordan has one of the best air forces in the Middle East.
“Mayor: Pilot Tells Police That Plane Crash Was Intentional,” by Dave Collins,Associated Press, October 12, 2016:
The pilot of a small plane that crashed on a busy road near the headquarters of military jet-engine maker Pratt & Whitney, killing a passenger, told police detectives that the wreck was intentional, the mayor said Wednesday.
East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc told The Associated Press that the badly burned pilot told authorities the crash Tuesday was not an accident, but she cautioned that investigators have not confirmed that information.
“It’s troubling,” Leclerc said. “But I also know that stories change and information can be skewed. We’re waiting for the facts to come out.”
The FBI, Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.
Authorities said a student pilot and an instructor were trying to land the Piper PA-34 Seneca at Brainard Airport in Hartford when it struck a utility pole in East Hartford and crashed onto the road at around 4 p.m., bursting into flames. The crash site is a short distance from the airport, across the Connecticut River and in line with the runway.
The police chief in East Hartford asked the FBI to assist in the investigation because it happened so close to Pratt & Whitney.
“The path that the plane took could have been much worse. So we’re very fortunate in that sense,” Chief Scott Sansom said.
Police say the pilot was hospitalized with serious burns but was talking with investigators. The passenger was in the wreckage and presumed dead. Police haven’t released names.
Two people in a minivan that came close to colliding with the plane were taken to a hospital with minor injuries.
Authorities urged people to avoid the area as investigators continued their work.
“This is a very complex investigation with a lot of different agencies and a lot of different moving parts,” fire Chief John Oates said.