Monsey Memories: When a Plane Crashed on Route 59

Monsey Memories: When a Plane Crashed on Route 59

By: Yitzy Fried 

The afternoon of Sunday, May 6, 1979 was just another spring weekend in the hamlet of Monsey, when a small plane came crashing down on the overpass of Route 59 over the New York State Thruway. The event could have ended a lot worse, as we read in The Journal News of the following morning: 

Two men were injured Sunday afternoon when a single-engine Piper airplane crash landed on Route 59 ion Monsey and skidded onto the guardrail of the New York State Thruway overpass. 

A passenger in the plane, John McDonald, 32, of 476 Goodwin Avenue, Midland Park, N.J.k was admitted to Good Samaritan Hospital for treatment of facial lacerations and possible spleen damage. He was reported in satisfactory condition. The pilot, Clifford Grupe, 33, of Jacquelyn Avenue received a cut above the right eye and several bumps on the head. He was treated and released by Good Samaritan. 

The nose of the plan was bent over the sidewalk along the Thruway overpassing facing south, with the rest of the plane lying perpendicular to Route 59. The guardrail, which is bolted and welded to the cement, snapped loose on impact and fell onto the northbound lane of the Thruway. 

No one was on the overpass or the Thruway when the plane crashed and the guardrail careened over the side. The plane had just taken off from Ramapo Valley Airport in Spring Valley when the pilot noticed the oil pressure dropping and began losing power, according to Ramapo Police. 

“It must have been a pretty bumpy landing,” Ramapo Police Sgt. Richard Whalen said. It’s miracle it wasn’t a real disaster.” 

The plan’s nose was broken near the cockpit and was curled over the pavement where the guardrail was knocked off. The right wing was gnarled exposing raw fiberglass and aluminum. Both wheels were broken off on impact. Ramapo Policeman Ronald Brightenback was the first person on the scene. He removed the plane’s battery in an attempt to prevent a fire.

New York State Police were at the scene investigating while the Tallman Fire Company stood by in case of a fire. The Federal Aviation Administration office at Teterboro Airport in Bergen County will also be investigating the cause of the crash. While neither the pilot nor the passenger were seriously injured, blood was spattered along the right wing of the plane. Black skid marks could be seen near the plane. 

The article goes on to cite incidents of plane crashes on roadways, many of them with far worse outcomes than the miraculous landing on Route 59. 

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