HARTFORD, Conn. (CBS/AP) — Authorities have identified the people killed and injured in the crash of a B-17 bomber at a Connecticut airport. The World War II-era plane with 13 people on board crashed and burned after experiencing mechanical trouble on takeoff Wednesday morning from Bradley International Airport.
Those confirmed to be or presumed dead are 75-year-old pilot Ernest McCauley, of Long Beach, California; 71-year-old co-pilot Michael Foster, of Jacksonville, Florida; 56-year-old David Broderick of West Springfield, Massachusetts; 66-year-old Gary Mazzone of Broad Brook, Connecticut; 48-year-old James Roberts of Ludlow, Massachusetts; 59-year-old Robert Riddell of East Granby, Connecticut and 64-year-old Robert Rubner of Tolland, Connecticut.
CT State Police have released list of passengers & crew who were killed or injured when Boeing B17 crashed at Bradley International Airport outside of Hartford, CT Wednesday. #wbz pic.twitter.com/PgjHENJZKb
— Christina Hager (@HagerWBZ) October 3, 2019
The only injured person from Massachusetts was 36-year-old Andy Barrett, of South Hadley.
More details emerged Thursday about those killed. Mazzone retired in January as a prosecutor’s office inspector and previously was a Vernon police officer for 22 years.
The father of three children and two stepdaughters was a history and military buff, according to his son, Daniel Mazzone. He didn’t know of his father’s plans to ride the B-17, he said, but knew why he would be interested.
“I think he just wanted to see what it was like to be in the back of a B-17,” Daniel Mazzone said. “He loved World War II. He loved people who served this country in any capacity.”
The Vernon police chief said he was with the department for 22 years, and was a longtime supporter of Special Olympics Connecticut.
“We’re all very sad … and we’re very sad for his family,” Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane said. “He was a good investigator. He was a good inspector. And he was a very good and helpful colleague.”
The wife of Robert Riddell, an insurance company analyst from East Granby, said in a Facebook post that her husband was among those killed. Robert Riddell had posted a photo from inside the plane just before takeoff.
“Words cannot express how devastated I am. Rob was the best person I’ve ever known. … I will miss him beyond words can ever express. He loved his children more than anyone could know and the new grandson was the apple of his eye,” Debra Riddell wrote.
Debra was at Bradley Airport waiting for her husband. She says he texted her that something was wrong before the plane crashed.
“Immediately after that there was this huge fireball and black smoke just billowing and I knew that plane went down,” Debra said. “How did that happen I just couldn’t believe it was happening.”
Two firefighters from Simsbury were aboard the plane and are recovering, the fire department said.
Also among the injured passengers was a member of the Connecticut Air National Guard, officials said.
Bridgeport Hospital officials said that one survivor who arrived in serious condition was upgraded Thursday to fair condition, and that two others there were still in fair condition. All three suffered burns and broken bones.
One patient injured in the crash remained at Hartford Hospital, officials said.
Some lives were likely saved by the efforts of people, including someone who raced to help the victims and people on the plane who helped others escape the fire by opening a hatch, state Public Safety Commissioner James Rovella said at a news conference late Wednesday.
“You’re going to hear about some heroic efforts from some of the individuals that were in and around that plane,” he said.
The retired, civilian-registered plane was associated with the Collings Foundation, an educational group that brought its Wings of Freedom vintage aircraft display to the airport this week, officials said.
The vintage bomber, also known as a Flying Fortress, one of the most celebrated Allied planes of World War II, was used to take history buffs and aircraft enthusiasts on short flights, during which they could get up and walk around the loud and windy interior.
The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team to investigate.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Associated Press writer Dave Collins contributed to this report.)