Palos Hills resident Michael D’Alessio was on his computer Oct. 5 when he started watching video of the fatal car crash in Oak Lawn that claimed three lives.
One week later, he and his family were up close and personal with a tragedy a lot closer to home.
A plane crashed in a small field in the 10100 block of 86th Court in a residential area Sunday night claiming the lives of three doctors from Kansas in the plane. No one from the area was injured and no major damage occurred to any of the houses.
Police say they were dispatched to the scene at 10:40 p.m. D’Alessio lives a block away and said he was able to survey some of the wreckage before police arrived. It marks two Sundays in a row that a major accident in the area claimed three lives.
“This is back-to-back tragedies,” D’Alessio said. “It’s crazy.’’
Sunday’s plane crash claimed the lives of 34-year-old Tausif Tehman, 36-year-old Ali Kanchwala and his wife, 37-year-old Maria Javaid. Rehman was a neurosurgeon and Kanchwala was a pulmonologist who both worked at a hospital in Topeka while Javaid was a cardiologist in Kansas City, Kan.
National Transportation Safety Board officials and local police said that the Beechcraft Baron took off from Midway Airport and was heading to Lawrence, Kan., and crashed at approximately 10:40 p.m. Official said the plane was near vertical when it crashed into the field.
“Dr. Rehman and Dr. Kanchwala were extremely valued, highly skilled and beloved members of our staff,” said Randy Peterson, president and chief executive officer of Stormont-Vail HealthCare in Topeka said in a statement. “We are heartbroken. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these individuals and the staff who worked closely with them. These physicians were deeply committed to their patients and to bringing the best of care to our community. We also extend our deepest sympathies to the Providence Medical Center staff for the loss of Dr. Javaid.”
Officials are speculating that the pilot, Rehman, may have been looking for a spot to land the craft that would not have injured anyone.
Members of the Palos Hills community breathed a sigh of relief that it didn’t claim more lives.
“Everything was contained to an empty wooded lot between two homes,” D’Alessio said. “This whole area is a densely populated area. It’s unfortunate that there was a loss of life but it could have been much, much worse.’’
He then pointed to an apartment complex area along 86th Avenue and said, “Could you imagine if it crashed there? We were very lucky.’’
D’Alessio had an earwitness account of the tragedy.
“I was asleep and I was awakened by the sound of a prop plane decelerating,” D’Alessio said. “It was r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r and then there was a split second of silence and then boom. I said, ‘a plane crashed.’ I just knew it.
“I ran outside expecting to see smoke and flames and fire and hysteria and there was nothing. It was just quiet. I said that we had to call 911. I didn’t know if I was dreaming. Our neighbors were looking around. We saw some activity and ran to the scene. There was wreckage all over the place. I happened to be standing next to a seat from the plane.’’
His wife, Sue, was up watching television when the crash occurred.
“I heard it and I felt it – you could feel it in the house, it was so low,” Sue D’Alessio said.
Their daughter, Amanda, said she posted on Twitter that it sounded like a car crashed near their home. Then she found out what really happened and posted a few photos online of the wreckage. The Stagg student soon started hearing from various television stations and news outlets asking her for her photos.