Pilot killed in Illinois plane crash identified as Palm Beach County resident Garry Bernardo

Posted at 7:29 AM, Jul 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-23 11:40:46-04

UPDATE: The pilot killed in a northern Illinois plane crash Thursday has been identified as Palm Beach County resident Garry Bernardo.


PLAINFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- A small plane registered to a Palm Beach County resident crashed into a residential neighborhood in a northern Illinois city Thursday morning, killing the pilot and torching the side of a home.

RELATED: More photos of the crash

Although it was initially unclear how many were aboard the aircraft, the pilot was killed, Joliet City Manager Jim Hock said, adding that it was "very fortunate" no other injuries resulted from the crash.

Authorities believe the fuel tank ruptured when the plane hit the street and ignited a fire that spread to a house to the north, Joliet Deputy Fire Chief Ray Randich said at a news conference.

The crash happened in Plainfield, which is next to Joliet, and the Joliet Fire Department responded to the scene.

Ed Malinowski of the National Transportation Safety Board says the Piper PA30 took off from Florida, landed in Tennessee and was headed for Wisconsin. The pilot's name hasn't been released.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Tony Molinaro said the agency has sent a team to the crash site to determine the type of aircraft involved in the crash and gather information that will be passed on to the NTSB. The agency will lead the investigation and determine the cause of the crash.

Aerial television video showed fire and structural damage to the home and parts of a small plane scattered in a street and in the lawn and driveway of a home.

Homeowner Patti Daniel said she was the only one inside when the crash happened. She said a decision to watch television in the family room rather than take a nap in her bedroom probably saved her life.

"I heard some loud noises coming down the street that sounded like very loud backfiring from a vehicle or a motorcycle, and it continued to get louder," Daniel told WLS-TV. "I heard some skidding and then all of a sudden my dining room wall blew out and flames were already in the house."

Daniel said she and her beagle escaped through the garage before half the house went up in flames.

Plainfield is about 40 miles southwest of Chicago.