NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- Aviation experts Monday investigated the deaths of four people whose small plane crashed after being hit by a free-falling skydiver more than 7,000 feet above the ground in western Massachusetts.
Skydiver Alan Peters, 51, of Westfield, Mass., suffered a leg fracture when he slammed into the tail section of a single-engine Piper Cherokee PA28 Sunday afternoon.
Officials said Peters had jumped from one plane and was falling at about 120 miles per hour when his body struck the vertical stabilizer of the second plane, causing it to go into a tailspin and nose-dive into some woods near the Northampton Airport.
Peters was able to open his parachute and landed safely at the airport's drop zone. He was taken to Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton.
Officials said the plane had taken off near Poughkeepsie, N.Y., apparently bound for the Boston area. The pilot, whose identity was not immediately released, reportedly had not filed a flight plan.
His three passengers were killed. They were Jonas Klein, 18, of Boston, Christina Park, 18, of Auburn, Wash., and Jean Kimball, 45, of Pine Plains, N.Y. Klein and Park were students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.