Former Newburyport mayor killed in Methuen plane crash

METHUEN, MA (WHDH) - A home-built aircraft crashed into an apartment building in Methuen Tuesday afternoon, killing the pilot.

Emergency crews responded at around 1:15 p.m. to the Prides Crossing Condominiums on Riverview Boulevard near Lawrence Municipal Airport. Video from Sky7 above the scene showed a plane that crashed through the roof of the building. Officials said it landed in apartment seven on the building’s upper floor.

The pilot was identified as 73-year-old Al Lavender, the former mayor of Newburyport. He was the sole occupant in the plane. While a few people were inside the building, no other injuries were reported. No one was inside the apartment unit the plane crashed into.

Lavender did not make an emergency call before crashing. Officials said he was flying an experimental, home-built aircraft.

The crash sparked a fire, but a major fire was avoided because the apartment’s sprinkler system went off, Methuen’s Mayor Stephen Zanni said. It’s also believed the plane could have been running low on fuel.

Lavender was making test runs with the plane, when officials said it suddenly nosedived into the building.

Multiple crashes involving other planes have occurred at the building in the past, officials said.

The accident is under investigation. Residents will not be allowed back inside until the investigation is complete.

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