Pilots Dead in Mo. Commuter Jet Crash

A small jet crashed in a residential area here, killing the only two people aboard, airline officials said Friday.

The crash Thursday of the Pinnacle Airlines (search) plane appeared to destroy a garage and set a home on fire, but there were no reports of injuries on the ground, police and fire officials said.

The CRJ2 (search), which seats up to 50 people, was traveling from Little Rock, Ark., to Minneapolis when the pilots for the regional airline reported trouble with both engines.

Witnesses reported seeing fire shortly before the plane went down a few miles east of downtown Jefferson City, police Capt. Michael Smith said.

Lesley Ammikus was sitting on the deck of her apartment as the plane approached her neighborhood.

"I saw it right at the trees. I thought, `That's way too loud and too low,' and it just hit," Ammikus said. "It went boom when it hit."

A wing and a large chunk of the plane's charred, twisted tail rested between two houses. An engine was found along the road, Smith said. "You could still smell the fuel," he said.

The plane's flight data recorder was recovered, and the National Transportation Safety Board (search) was investigating.

Memphis-based Pinnacle is affiliated with Northwest Airlines (search), operating under the name Northwest Airlink (search).

"I am greatly saddened by the loss of our crew," said Pinnacle chief executive Philip Trenary. "My prayers and the prayers of all Pinnacle people are with their family and loved ones."

The accident came hours after another small plane crashed 300 miles away near townhouses in Joliet, Ill., killing the pilot. That plane crashed while trying to land at Joliet Regional Airport (search) shortly after taking off from there, Joliet officer Chris Gombosi said.

Mary Saunders was in her car when she saw the pilot was in trouble. "He absolutely had no control," she said.