Officials: Small plane makes emergency landing on Major Deegan

Rescue workers are seen around a small plane

Rescue workers are seen around a small plane that landed on the Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx. (Jan. 4, 2014) (Credit: Lou Minutoli)

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A male pilot and two women scrambled out of a small plane Saturday afternoon after it made an emergency landing on a highway in the Bronx, somehow avoiding collisions with cars.

The single-engine plane touched down about 3:20 p.m. on the Major Deegan Expressway in the area of East 233rd Street, where the highway passes through Van Cortlandt Park, New York City officials said.

The three onboard the Piper PA-28 escaped serious harm. One of the women had a minor head injury, police said.

"This was an extraordinary situation and a bit of miracle," said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

De Blasio said the plane left from the Danbury airport in Connecticut and had toured over the Statue of Liberty. The plane was returning to Connecticut when it engine problems struck over the Bronx, he said.

The plane landed in the northbound lanes, which had to be closed for several hours. The road reopened about 7 p.m. There were no reports of a fire or fuel leaks.

Photographs taken by onlookers showed the blue-and-white plane largely intact, but resting on its belly by the snowy edge of the road. The landing gear appeared to have collapsed.

The plane is owned by Michael Schwartz of South Salem in Westchester County, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. He did not return calls seeking comment.

Patricia Sapol, 29, of West Point, was driving south on the highway with her husband when they saw emergency vehicles surrounding the plane, about 15 minutes after the hard landing.

"We couldn't believe it! We thought, 'Oh my god, that's a plane!' It was pretty incredible," she said. "The fact that there was no actual crash we thought was pretty surprising."

With Maria Alvarez and the AP

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