On October 2, 2019, seven people were killed when a World-War II-era plane crashed on the runway and burst into flames after hitting a deicing facility at Bradley International Airport (BDL) in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Six other people on the plane were injured but survived.
Last month, the 10 TSA employees involved in securing the crash site received the 2020 Federal Executive Association of Connecticut Unsung Hero Team Award.
Federal Security Director William Csontos initiated a response after the crash, and a TSA team of law enforcement and regulatory agents arrived on the scene within minutes. The team entered into a potentially hazardous situation as the BDL Fire Department had just arrived and was extinguishing the burning B-17 aircraft and building.
As thick, black smoke was billowing from the plane, the TSA employees provided aid and conducted a preliminary inquiry. They found no evidence that the crash was caused by a terrorist or criminal act, and they assisted in getting airport operations back to normal after the airport was shut down.
The flight was part of a tour of vintage WWII aircraft for aviation enthusiasts.
The awards honor the “best of the best" in local, federal, postal, and military service in Connecticut. The Unsung Hero Team Award recognizes federal employees who have gone beyond the call of duty and sustain a positive image and environment in their workplace.
"We regret the horrible loss of life in this tragic aviation incident," Csontos said. "However, I am very proud of TSA's response to this event. We rendered aid, assessed the situation, and assisted first responders. We quickly resumed our screening operations when we realized that this likely was not a result of terrorism, and helped facilitate the reopening of the airport.
“Had this been caused by an overt criminal or nefarious act, TSA would have known very quickly and would have been able to send out a national alert,” he added. “This expeditious response and evaluation by TSA could have saved lives if this was part of a coordinated attack. I support my team receiving the Unsung Hero Team Award for their actions."