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Cessna Hits Laser Factory in Fiery Crash, Killing Doctors on Board

Published: September 3, 2021
A Cessna Citation X passenger jet refueling from Santa Fe Municipal Airport in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
A Cessna Citation X passenger jet refueling from Santa Fe Municipal Airport in Santa Fe, New Mexico. (Image: Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

A married Boston couple, both doctors, and their two pilots died in a fiery crash shortly after takeoff from Robertson Airport in Plainville, CT. Witnesses said the private jet appeared to struggle to take off. The Cessna Citation 560X jet crashed just about a mile away from the airport, hitting an industrial laser factory that makes lasers for Trumpf Medical Systems.  

The pilots were Mark Morrow, 57, of Danbury and William O’Leary, 55, of Bristol, CT, according to Police Lt. Tim McKenzie. National Transportation Safety Board investigators were at the scene the day after the crash and the cause is reportedly a matter of investigation. Lt. McKenzie said the cause appeared to be a mechanical failure during takeoff.

The crash claimed all lives on board, including Dr. Courtney Haviland, 33, and her husband Dr. William Shrauner, 32. A person identified as the family spokesperson, Dr. Matthew Mitchell, said “The devastation of this moment, the reality of this moment, it sinks in. It becomes surreal.” Dr. Mitchell said that Dr. Haviland was currently pregnant with the couple’s daughter at the time of the crash. They are survived by an infant son.

Boston Medical Center, where Shrauner worked as an internist and cardiology fellow, said in a Friday statement:

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one of our cardiology fellows, Dr. Will Shrauner, and his wife, Dr. Courtney Haviland. Will, a second year fellow at Boston Medical Center, was well known as an outstanding educator, physician, colleague and friend to many. Our thoughts and prayers are with Will and Courtney’s family and loved ones.”

According to local news station WBUR, Haviland was a fellow at Brown Pediatric Emergency Medicine in Providence, Rhode Island, working at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.

Morrow, his co-pilot, and passengers crashed into a small field adjacent to the Trumpf Inc. building before the Citation flipped upside down and hit the business. The building caught fire and sustained serious damage, but no employees were seriously harmed. The police said all inside were all accounted for, although officials said that two suffered minor injuries. 

Mark Morrow’s brother, Scott Morrow, was deeply saddened by the loss. He said that most likely Morrow was trying very hard not to touch the building with the beleaguered plane, while trying to protect those on board, adding “He put everybody before himself.” His brother also shared, “He was such a gentle guy. When I would try to fight him [as a kid], he would never take a swing at me. He would just wrestle me to the ground until I was exhausted.”

Mark Morrow’s son said he was a “diligent,” “careful” and “meticulous” pilot. 

It is unknown why the couple was traveling together to North Carolina. The plane’s destination, according to the FAA, was Dare County Regional Airport in the Outer Banks coastal town of Manteo, North Carolina.

The Cessna Citation 560x is a $3-million jet. Since July 17, a plane with the same tail number had five takeoffs and landings at the Robertson field. As one of the most frequently purchased business jets, Citations have been involved in many accidents yet are considered to have a relatively good safety record. This plane was on its second owner.