Witness describes plane crash scene

Passenger in plane crash identified as former Emory student

The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office has identified the passenger killed in Tuesday night’s crash of a business jet in northwest Atlanta as 23-year-old Brittany McAuley.

She is originally from New York but was living in metro Atlanta.

McAuley, who went to Emory University until spring 2012, was an intern at Chartis Inc., the former property and casualty division of AIG, in 2011. According to a news release from the defunct subsidiary, McAuley was one of 67 interns who helped design a social media strategy for the unit, which was rebranded back into AIG. She was one of five interns selected to help refine and present a strategy to the division’s leadership team.

The plane’s pilot, Peter J. Mallen, 67, of Atlanta, also died in the fiery crash.

Mallen was the CEO of Norcross-based Mallen Industries. His family could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Mallen Industries produces “high performance textile products for the industrial, automotive, active wear and intimate apparel industries,” according to the company’s website.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, Mallen Industries was the registered owner of the twin-engine Raytheon 390 Premier I jet. The company did not respond to requests for comment.

Residents of the northwest Atlanta neighborhood watched in horror Tuesday night as the small plane crashed and ignited, killing two people aboard.

“Before it even hit, the house shook,” Drew Hawkins told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Then I heard the explosion and it shook the house even more.”

Hawkins said he and other neighbors stared in shock as the plane became a huge fireball in the woods, narrowly missing houses.

The plane crashed at 7:25 p.m. in the 2200 block of Thomas Road, near Bolton Road and I-285, not long after takeoff, according to the fire department and FAA. It ignited on impact and burned in the woods, about 200 yards from houses, witnesses said.

According to the FAA, the aircraft departed from Fulton County Airport and was destined for New Orleans Lakefront Airport.

Neighbors said Tuesday night that the sound of airplanes is constant due to the neighborhood’s proximity to the airport. But this time, something sounded different, almost like a missile, Kevin Krapp told the AJC.

“It looked like it was coming straight for our house, and at the last minute, dipped its wings over and it banked really hard right,” Krapp said. “It landed a couple hundred yards away from our house, and I thought it hit a neighbor’s house.”

Krapp said the plane appeared to turn at an angle just before crashing.

“It looked like the pilot landed it here on purpose because it was away from houses,” Krapp said. “It looked like he saw a bunch of houses with all the lights on and he banked at the last minute. It was unbelievable.”

Ely Rooney, her husband and three kids had just returned home when she said she heard something strange.

“You hear a lot of planes around here, but this one sounded super close,” Rooney said. “I turned around because I was halfway up the steps, and I saw this plane coming in at a bit of a tilt, and it just crashed.”

As she got her children in the house, her husband ran toward the site. She and other neighbors hoped there would be survivors.

“You see a plane and you know there are people on it,” she said. “To witness life go out in the blink of an eye is extremely traumatic.”

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

— Staff writers Alexis Stevens and photographer Ben Gray contributed to this report.

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