Dec 20, 2011

A small plane has crash-landed on a northern New Jersey interstate and three people have died, The Star-Ledger in Newark reports.

Update at 12:04 p.m.: State Police Lt. Stephen Jones says the death toll could be as high as five. The bodies were in the plane and no motorists were involved, he says.

Update at 11:54: New Jersey State Police say three people are dead, possibly more, the Associated Press reports.

Update at 11:23: There was no official word on injuries from the crash on Interstate 287 in Harding, N.J., the Associated Press reports. State Police Trooper Christopher Kay told the AP there was a report of three possible deaths but could not confirm it.

State Police Lt. Stephen Jones told The Star-Ledger the plane crashed on I-287 in Morris County. Shona Sternberg told the newspaper she was about three cars behind where the plane went down. She said she didn't hear any noises but saw an explosion when the aircraft hit the highway.

"There was a lot of fire and big black smoke," she told the paper. "I could smell burning, burnt rubber. You see something happening, you know it's going to crash and you can't do anything."

Sternberg was on her way to Madison traveling north on 287 when she called from the scene. She said the plane looked like it was in trouble before it crashed.

"Something was breaking off the plane as it was coming down. It was coming down fast. It looked like the right wing was breaking off."

State Police said north and southbound lanes have been affected by the crash.
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