January 21, 2003
Icy intruder: Ice chunk smashes through homeís roof
By CATHY REDFERN
Sentinel STAFF WRITER
SANTA CRUZ ó A chunk of ice that apparently fell from an airplane bathroom crashed through the roof of a Santa Cruz home, landing in a teenagerís
Monique Zesati, 13, was a few feet away when the basketball-sized chunk landed with a thud on her favorite sweatshirt about 9 p.m. Sunday. The crash
scattered fluffy insulation, black roof tar and other debris all over her room.
Her mother, Holly, was also in the room of their Caledonia Street home.
"There was just this huge bang and a ball of blue ice fell through the roof," Holly Zesati said. "We didnít know what to think."
The ice was large enough and fast enough to be deadly, said Battalion Chief John Lucchesi of the Santa Cruz Fire Department.
"It probably would have killed her (if it had hit her)," he said.
Firefighters came to the home Sunday night, and told the family to stay out of the room. The ice was put in a bucket but hadnít completely melted
A frustrated Holly Zesati spent hours Monday trying to find out what it was before finally reaching the Federal Aviation Administration, which told
her it was probably from a plane bathroom.
But earlier Monday, someone from the Zesati family thought the FAA said it could be composed of a hazardous chemical, so they called firefighters
again, and a specially trained unit removed the ice and debris, including some carpet.
A field test revealed it was nontoxic, Lucchesi said, and they believe it most likely hailed from an airliner.
And Jerry Johnston of the FAA said in his 12 years there, it is the fourth report of such waste falling from a plane.
"It does on occasion, happen, so that would be my guess," he said. "Where else would it come from?"
That ice contains the same chemical used for motor home toilets, alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride, he said.
He was not sure whether it was harmful.
"I wouldnít touch it because of what it is," said Johnston, who works in the FAAís Western Region Emergency Operations Center. "Itís disgusting,
Lucchesi called it a freak incident, but one that could have had fatal results.
"You hear about his stuff back on the East Coast, but in Santa Cruz?" he said. "We will probably never know conclusively where it came from."
The FAA is attempting to track the incident to a specific plane.
"Weíll pull the radar tapes and try to track it down," Johnston said.
Holly Zesati would like to know how it happened.
"Iím glad everyone is OK," she said, "but I would like to get to the bottom of this plane stuff."
Her husband, Gus, said an emergency dispatcher asked him if he had been drinking when he told her a chunk of bluish ice had crashed through the
"Nobody gets it," he said, shaking his head.
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