Small plane crashes near Mass. airport


GARDNER, Mass. (AP) – A small plane crashed in a heavily wooded area near Gardner airport on Saturday, seriously injuring a man and two women on board, State Police said.

They were rushed by ambulance to Heywood Hospital in Gardner and then by emergency helicopter to UMass Medical Center in Worcester, state police said in a statement.

Firefighters used chain saws to reach the crash site and metal cutters to extricate the victims from the plane. The aircraft crashed 50 feet off the road, and firefighters spent an hour hacking their way to the victims, Gardner Fire Department’s Lt. Stephen Fredette said.

The pilot was 55-year-old Sylvia Vriesendorp of Manchester, Massachusetts. The passengers were 53-year-old Joan Bragar Mansour and 60-year-old Richard Magnuson, all of Westminster, State Police said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear what caused the Piper Cherokee single engine plane to crash near the Gardner Municipal Airport. Visibility was good and conditions were fair in the area at the time of the accident.

There were no reports of fire at the site, on Airport Road in East Templeton. Firefighters sprayed foam to cover the vaporizing fuel leaking from the plane.

The wooded area is located between Gardner and Templeton, towns in central Massachusetts.

The airport mostly handles small aircraft. About 29 planes are based there, including 27 single-engine planes and one ultra-light.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash.