They were going about their morning routines -- preparing to put kids on the school bus, sleeping in after a late night at work.
Some residents heard the loud whine of the single-engine plane approaching Camille Lane in East Patchogue and knew something was wrong. Moments later, the neighborhood was jolted by a ground-shaking blast.
In an instant, Tuesday's normalcy dissolved into a fiery explosion and a towering plume of thick black smoke.
"It was like an atom bomb going off," said Sonia Perez, who lives on nearby Denise Drive.
College student Tim Carney, 18, said he was sound asleep after getting home late from his job at a restaurant in the Hamptons.
"We heard the entire thing come right over the house," said Carney, who lives a block from the backyard crash site. "I was . . . asleep. The plane was so loud it woke me up. You heard the whining and then a huge explosion."
The pilot died in the crash.
"It's very sad," said Tara Widman, 33, a social worker who lives four houses from where the plane went down.
But Widman and other residents marveled that the plunging plane somehow missed homes, avoiding further destruction and sparing lives.
Jason Fajardo, 21, was asleep on the second floor of one of the two houses that the plane crashed between.
Fajardo said it seems miraculous that his house wasn't hit.
"That's crazy; unbelievable," he said. "I feel lucky."
With Patricia Kitchen, Siobhan Barton, Darran Simon and John Valenti
CORRECTION: The first name of the Denise Drive resident was incorrect in an earlier version of this story.