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Small plane crashes on I-93 in N.H., killing two aboard

A small plane crashed on I-93 near Hooksett, New Hampshire.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

A small plane crashed on I-93 near Hooksett, New Hampshire.

An elderly couple from Rhode Island died when their small plane crashed Thursday on busy Interstate 93 in Hooksett, N.H., State Police said.

Herman Hassinger and his wife, Doris, both 83, of Block Island, R.I., were killed, officials said. The Hassingers were the only occupants of the plane. It was not immediately clear who was piloting the aircraft, New Hampshire State Police said.

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Bill Boynton, a spokesman for the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, said the crash was reported around 1:15 p.m. The plane, registered to Herman Hassinger’s architectural firm, went down ­between Exits 10 and 11, just south of the I-93/Interstate 293 split, at mile marker 26.2, he said.

The aircraft, which had left Nashua and was en route to ­Laconia, N.H., was flying south when it struck a light pole adjacent to the highway, a preliminary investigation found, State Police said. It eventually came to rest in the high speed and ­adjacent breakdown lanes of I-93.

State Police said Herman Hassinger was ejected from the plane.

According to Federal Aviation Administration records, Hassinger was flying the same plane in 2010 when he had to execute a hard landing at Nashua Airport because of a problem with the landing gear.

In 1993, the plane was involved in a hard landing in Falmouth. According to records of the incident from the National Transportation Safety Board, a gust of wind lifted the plane just before it touched down.

The pilot told investigators that “the airplane bounced and touched down hard again, then the nose gear collapsed and tore away from the airplane.”

The NTSB ruled that the ­pilot’s “inadequate compensation for wind conditions and improper recovery from a bounced landing,” along with the gusty winds, caused the hard landing. It was not clear whether Hassinger was piloting the plane during that incident.

A Globe employee who was driving on I-93 Thursday said she saw a small plane on the left side of the road and a part of its tail section. There was no fire and no smoke, Barbara Gibson said, and she saw emergency vehicles race past on the way to the plane.

Before emergency vehicles arrived, Gibson said she saw two men in suits standing by the aircraft, including one who looked like Governor John Lynch.

Lynch’s press secretary, ­Colin Manning, later confirmed that Lynch had been returning from a funeral in Salem, N.H., saw the wreck, and waited there until help arrived.

The incident is under investigation by the NTSB, FAA, and the state Bureau of Aeronautics.

John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Sarah N. Mattero can be reached at sarah.mattero@globe.com. Colin Young can be reached colin.young @globe.com. Martin Finucane can be reached at mfinucane@globe.com.

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