Kentucky doctor, wife killed in fiery Bolingbrook plane crash

Kentucky doctor, wife killed in fiery Bolingbrook plane crash

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Dr. Narayan and Jay Vengushwamy. (Kentucky.com) Dr. Narayan and Jay Vengushwamy. (Kentucky.com)
(Kelly Shew/Facebook) (Kelly Shew/Facebook)
(Diane Witiarz Castellano/Facebook) (Diane Witiarz Castellano/Facebook)
BOLINGBROOK, Ill. (FOX 32 News) -

A Kentucky doctor and his wife were killed after a single-engine plane crashed in Bolingbrook Wednesday night. The FAA and NTSB combed through the wreckage Thursday morning, looking for answers.

A spokeswoman from Georgetown Community Hospital, in Kentucky, identified Dr. Narayan Vengushwamy and his wife, Jay, as the crash victims. They were on their way to a medical conference.

"I have known him and his wife for 4½ years, and they were very special people," said Cindy Wesley, assistant administrator at Georgetown Community Hospital in Georgetown, Ky. "Of course (we are in shock) this is a small community hospital, and we are a very small community."

The doctor was often referred to as Dr. Vengu.

"Dr. Vengu was a member of the Georgetown medical staff for 27 years. He was an extraordinary physician and outstanding surgeon who was passionate about the practice of medicine. He was an integral member of the Georgetown medical staff," according to the hospital's statement. "Dr. Vengu was well-respected and beloved, particularly by his staff, his patients and his colleagues. Our heartfelt thoughts, prayers and support are with the Vengu family during this very difficult time."

Authorities say the Cirrus SR-22 clipped several trees, hit a few light poles and crashed into three cars in the parking lot of a Chase bank, before it burst into flames at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday.

"At this time of day, during rush hour, we're very fortunate there wasn't a greater number of casualties or injuries," Bolingbrook police Lt. Mike Rompa said.

"These planes come low anyways. They're quite low when they land. I didn't think anything of it. I just figured he was trying to come around, because the landing runway is on this side over here," one witness said. "I didn't know what he was trying to do. He just lost control, and that was it. It was something out of a nightmare."

The bank branch is located at Weber Rd. and Lily Cache Ln, about half a mile from Bolingbrook's Clow International Airport. Local police said the pilot was trying to land there. Witnesses said the plane tried to lift again before it crashed into the parking lot.

"It appears they had trouble, tried to lift again and banked into the parking lot," Bolingbrook police Chief Kevin McCarthy said.

"As soon it was coming up in the air, it started to bank left, and the bank was rather steep, and I just…" witness George Malek said. "It's just one of those gut things you know, that it's not going to make it."

The FAA said the flight originated in Georgetown Scott County Airport – Marshal Field in Kentucky at 4:08 EST. It was scheduled to arrive at Clow at 5:05 CST.

"It was a single-engine plane with a propeller and four seats," Georgetown airport manager James Toole said. "It would have taken him about two hours to get to his destination. They were going to Bolingbrook."

The doctor's wife, who was also his office manager, was trapped in the wreckage and pronounced dead at the scene at 6:45 p.m., Rompa said.

"I was taking money out of one of the ATMs," Tom McKernan of Bolingbrook said. "I heard this horrible explosion. I thought it was a rocket coming from some other country. I was in shock."

"I've never seen anything quite like that," witness George Steimer said. "When it hit, it just exploded. I mean there was just this big loud crash. Then all of the sudden, there were little explosions."

Stunned witnesses in neighboring restaurants and businesses reported seeing one "middle-aged" man emerge from the wreckage of the inbound plane - in flames.

"I went running over and I could see the flames, I mean it went up in flames immediately. Then I saw the pilot come out and he had flames," witness Cherise McGee said. "He kind of did a drop and roll. I couldn't see more than that."

Dr. Vengu was taken to Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital with burns. Because of the severity of his injuries, he was subsequently transferred to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood for further treatment.

Dr. Vengu succumbed to his injuries at 5:45 a.m. Thursday, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner.

Mike Grohar, who works at a nearby Andy's Frozen Custard, was among the first to arrive at the scene. Grohar said a man who got out of the plane was in the parking lot on fire. He said another man took off his sweatshirt or jacket to douse the fire.

"The man had fallen and kept asking us to get his wife out of the plane," Grohar said. "We were only 20 feet from the plane and we wanted to get him away."

The wreckage was so bad, Grohar said, that he thought he had come upon a car crash.

"[I] did not have any clue that it was a plane at that point," Grohar said.

"Oh my God, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Watching him come out of the plane was like watching a movie. It was horrible. I didn't know what to do," McGee said. "When I first came out of Aldi, there was an older man who grabbed my arm and said, ‘Call 911! Call 911!' You're frozen, you know, when you see something like that."

"There was a person, with their hands in the air, on fire. It's something you never want to see, but it was just… incredible," Steimer said. "I came back into the store, and there was a gentleman running toward the store. He asked if I had a fire extinguisher. I handed that to him from the store and he took off. We were both going across and there was another explosion. I stopped, but he kept going."

Juan Moreno, who works at a nearby Chipotle, said he heard the commotion and left the restaurant to help. At the time, he thought a car had set fire, Moreno said.

He said two other men who were in the restaurant ran out to help as well. Moreno said he asked one of his customers what happened and the man replied: "‘I just saw this guy on fire and I went out to help. I just pulled off my jacked to put out the flames."

Moreno said he saw what probably was part of a wing in the wreckage. But he said it was hard to tell that the metal parts in the parking lot were from an airplane.

What appeared to be a propeller was lying in the parking lot. A heap of mangled metal was lying near the cars that caught fire. What appeared to be white sheets of metal were curled into a pile near the bank building.

The bank building itself did not appear damaged. The three cars that caught fire looked charred inside and out. Police had cordoned off the area, keeping media and onlookers away.

Ray Castellano of Bolingbrook said police were keeping traffic away when the fire was still burning, and his wife drove up to the bank not knowing what had happened. His wife thought the bank was on fire.

Castellano was among a group of Bolingbrook residents at the scene who remembered an emergency landing that a pilot had made on Weber Road nearby in September 2008. That time, Castellano said, "Everyone was OK."

This time, authorities considered it fortunate that no one on the ground was hurt.

The FAA and NTSB are investigating the cause.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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