Pilot, Co-Pilot Originally Pronounced Dead, Now ‘Missing’ After New Jersey Plane Crash: Police

A Learjet crashed Monday afternoon near Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. (Credit: CNN)

A pilot and co-pilot aboard a Learjet that crashed Monday afternoon near Teterboro Airport in New Jersey were “missing,” Carlstadt Mayor Craig Lahullier said.

Earlier Carlstadt Police said the pilot and co-pilot died in the crash. But hours later, Carlstadt Deputy Police Chief Thomas Berta told reporters local authorities couldn’t immediately confirm any deaths.

“As of this point, we have no idea if anybody is deceased,” Berta said.

The Learjet 35 crashed around 3:30 p.m. in a residential area about a quarter-mile from the airport in Teterboro as it approached a runway, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The flight departed from Philadelphia International Airport, and the FAA was on the way to the scene, agency said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating, the agency said.

Berta said the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey hasn’t confirmed the number of people aboard the plane. Earlier, police said the pilot and co-pilot were the only people aboard the plane.

There were no injuries on the ground, police said.

Authorities arrived at the crash scene to find that fire had engulfed two industrial buildings near the Carlstadt Department of Public Works building.

Lahullier said the last employee left the building about 15 minutes before the crash and locked the gate.

“When we got there, in the middle of the fire … our gate was still locked, which gave us a good indication that he had already left the building,” the mayor said.

He added: “It’s a miracle. We were all out of there at that time.”

Video from the crash showed smoke billowing in the air.

Craig Peterson told CNN affiliate WABC the plane “disintegrated.”

“You could see parts of the engine,” he said. “They moved everybody else back because they started finding more parts of the airplane over by some of the other warehouse areas.”

The aircraft, which was built in 1981, is owned by A&C Big Sky Aviation LLC in Billings, Montana, according to FAA records. The company couldn’t be immediately reached.

Teterboro Airport is 12 miles from midtown Manhattan. It handles general aviation and charter flights, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.