Block Island, Rhode Island – August 26, 1995
Town of New Shoreham
On August 26, 1995, a Cessna 185 (N4944E) took off from East Hampton, Long Island, New York, bound for Block Island. The aircraft was a seaplane capable of water landings.
There were four people aboard, a 52-year-old pilot and three passengers in their 20s.
The plane arrived at Block Island shortly after 1 p.m. and attempted to land at Old Harbor Beach, touching down about 400 feet from shore and heading towards land. After traveling about 100 feet the pilot aborted due to rocks and swimmers in the area. The airplane leveled off at 15 feet and continued towards shore where it rose again to clear a building and some electrical wires. After clearing the first set of wires, the plane settled downward and caught a second set of wires. It then dove towards a restaurant known as G.R. Sharkey’s which also had an attached gas station. One of the aircraft’s pontoons slammed into a car occupied by a 79-yrear-old woman who was parked at the gas pumps, before crashing into the restaurant and bursting into flames. The woman and three people aboard the plane died at the scene. One male passenger aboard the aircraft managed to free himself from the wreckage, but later died of his injuries at Rhode Island Hospital.
Fortunately the restaurant was fairly empty at the time of the crash, and no patrons or employees were hurt.
This incident remains the worst aviation disaster to occur on Block Island.
National Transportation Safety Board accident report brief – #NYC95FA203
New York Times, “Plane Hits Block Island Restaurant, Killing 5”, August 27, 1995
New York Times, “Small Town tries To Get Over Shattering Plane Crash”, August 28, 1995
New York Times, “Last 3 Victims Identified In seaplane Crash”, August 29, 1995