A small airplane operating as a volunteer Angel Flight crashed Friday night just east of Herkimer County while en route to Rome, killing at least two people and leaving a third one missing, authorities said.
A small airplane operating as a volunteer Angel Flight crashed Friday just east of Herkimer County while en route to Rome, killing at least two people and leaving a third one missing, authorities said.
The flight's two passengers were found dead and investigators continued their search Saturday for the pilot, said Fulton County Sheriff Thomas Lorey.
"The bulk of the plane is in the water, in a pond, completely submerged and we have to wait until daylight to put divers in," Lorey said of the wooded area where the crash happened.
Officials have not yet identified anyone who was on the twin-engine plane.
The Piper PA 34 airplane took off from Hanscom Field in Bedford, Mass., and crashed shortly after 5 p.m., Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said.
Larry Camerlin, president and founder of Angel Flight Northeast, a nonprofit group that arranges free air transportation for sick patients from volunteer pilots, said the organization was "tremendously saddened" by the tragic news of the crash.
"We all offer our thoughts and prayers to the families of those affected," Camerlin said in a statement. "Our volunteer pilots are the most compassionate and generous individuals who donate their time, aircraft and fuel to transport patients and loved ones for free to essential medical care that would otherwise not be readily available to them. There are no words that can adequately express our sorrow."
The parking lot of Granny's Ice Cream Shanty, which is less than a mile from the crash site, was filled with emergency vehicles Saturday morning. Owner Joan Dudley told The Associated Press that she and her employees were among the first at the scene Friday night.
"We were just leaving to get something to eat, and we heard this noise," Dudley said.
"We looked up and saw the plane flipping in the air. Then it fell apart," she said. "Parts and pieces of it were flying through the sky, and a body fell out."
They called 911 as they parked their car and ran to the crash site in the rain to see if they could rescue anyone.
"Airplane parts were all over the place," she said. "They were picking them up all over last night."
Ephratah resident Roger Berry, 75, said he was outside chopping wood when the plane crashed.
"When I heard it, I knew something was wrong," Berry said. "It made one circle and came back around."
Berry said he heard a bang, then saw pieces of the plane fall out of the air. Although most of the plane landed in the pond, Berry said pieces, including the engine, scattered about the area.
Page 2 of 2 - "My neighbor, she was sleeping in her bedroom," Berry said. "The motor fell 50 feet from her bedroom."
Berry said he ran home to get his raincoat, then assisted rescuers by directing traffic.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash, including what the weather conditions were like at the time of the accident.
Camerlin's statement said that since Angel Flight NE was founded in 1996, the group has set up free air transportation and medical care for more than 65,000 children and adults on about 60,000 flights covering a total of more than 12 million miles.