HOOKSETT, N.H. (AP) — A Rhode Island couple was killed when their small plane crashed onto a portion of Interstate 93 north in Hooksett Thursday afternoon.
No motorists were involved in the crash.
New Hampshire State Police say Herman and Doris Hassinger, both 83 and from Block Island, were killed in the crash. They were en route to this weekend's board of trustees' meeting at the New Hampton School, where Herman Hassinger was a longtime trustee, the school said.
Hassinger, a self-employed architect, and his wife routinely flew to the school's four annual board of trustee's meetings, the school said.
Peter Galletly, chairman of the New Hampton School Board of Trustees, said Hassinger was the longest-serving trustee on the board.
"Herman was the architect for many of our buildings on campus," he said. "He was incredibly generous with his time and thoughtful of the student experience at New Hampton. Our hearts go out to the Hassinger family. "
Police say one body was in the plane. The other was ejected from the plane and found a distance away in a wooded median strip.
The crash left the tail end of the aircraft on the passing lane of northbound I-93 in Hooksett.
Police say the single-engine Beechcraft hit a light pole alongside the northbound lanes just after 1 p.m., sending it crashing onto the highway and partially into the woods next to the roadway.
State Police Lt. Chris Wagner said one of the plane's wings hit the light tower, and the tail of the plane came to rest in the left lane of I-93 north.
"This absolutely could have been a lot worse," Wagner said.
The nose of the largely-intact plane was on the other side of the guard rail, in the wooded median between I-93 and I-293.
Wagner said state police received the first call about the plane crash at 1:10 p.m. When they arrived, there was no one at the scene who had witnessed the plane go down.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane had taken off from Nashua and was en route to Laconia.
A spokeswoman for the Rhode Island Airport Corporation said the plane had left Block Island Airport sometime Thursday. No one answered the airport's telephone Thursday afternoon.
FAA records show the plane was involved in an accident in August 2010 at Nashua's Boire Field after the landing gear failed. The plane skidded about 700 feet before coming to a rest on its belly. The pilot was Herman Hassinger of Block Island and the plane was registered to him. A phone message left at his home was not returned.
That same plane was involve in a hard landing at the Falmouth Airpark on Cape Cod in July 1993 and was blown off a runway at Beaumont Municipal Airport in Texas while taxiing behind a much larger plane in 1979, according to FAA records. The records do not identify the pilot of the plane on those occasions.
According to the FAA registry, the plane was registered to Herman Hassinger Architects in Block Island. Herman Hassinger was listed in the 2006 edition of "Who's Who in America" as CEO of Herman Hassinger Architects in Moorestown, N.J. The company's phone number is no longer in service, according to a recorded message Thursday.
According to the biography in that edition, Hassinger was born in Germany, and he and Doris have three children. Under "interests" he listed aviation and sailing.
Investigators from the Bureau of Aeronautics and the FBI were on the crash scene in Hooksett on Thursday and investigators from the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board were en route. The NTSB will head the investigation.
The plane was draped with a blue tarp, as was the body in the woods of the median strip Thursday afternoon. . Shattered pieces of the large tower light lay on an exit ramp and a grassy median behind the plane. DOT workers later loaded that debris and a large piece of the plane's wing into a DOT truck.
The ramp from I-93 north to I-293 south was closed and I-93 was down to one lane of travel. Police asked drivers to avoid traveling in the area and to seek alternate routes of travel.
State police are asking anyone who may have witnessed the crash to contact them.