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Home-built plane crashes through condo roof, killing pilot

Last Updated Feb 28, 2017 at 6:20 pm MST

Firefighters investigate the scene after a small plane crashed into the roof of a condominium building across the Merrimack River from Lawrence Municipal Airport, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, in Methuen, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

METHUEN, Mass. – A single-engine aircraft crashed into a condominium building Tuesday on its approach to an airport, killing the pilot and leaving the plane’s tail sticking out of the complex’s roof.

The pilot was identified as Al Lavender, a former city councillor and mayor of Newburyport, police said.

There were no reported injuries to residents of the building, located in Methuen across the Merrimack River from Lawrence Municipal Airport and about 20 miles southwest of Newburyport. The Federal Aviation Administration said the home-built plane was on its final approach when it crashed.

Only a few people were inside the building at the Prides Crossing condominium complex when the plane crashed shortly after 1 p.m., Lt. Stephen Smith said.

Television footage and photos showed the tail of the single-engine plane sticking out of the roof.

Keith Lontine, a witness to the crash, told New England Cable News the plane “came down straight out of the sky.”

“It looked like it took a nosedive out of the blue and smashed into the building,” Lontine said.

Donna Holaday, the current mayor of Newburyport, said Lavender loved working for the city and was loved by the community. “Our community has suffered a tremendous loss today and our thoughts and prayers are with the Lavender family,” she said.

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This story has been corrected to show that authorities now say the building was not on fire.