Two dead, pilot missing in crash
Officials search the site where an Angel Flight, on a medical mission, went down.
EPHRATAH, N.Y. - Divers searched a large pond while investigators combed nearby woods Saturday for any sign of the pilot of a volunteer Angel Flight that crashed in Upstate New York, killing two passengers.
The plane's passengers were found dead Friday night near where the small plane crashed in Ephratah, about an hour west of Albany, Fulton County Sheriff Thomas Lorey said. The bulk of the plane was found submerged in a pond, he said.
Angel Flight is a nonprofit group that, with volunteer pilots, arranges free air transportation for sick patients. Larry Camerlin, president and founder of Angel Flight Northeast, said the organization was "tremendously saddened" by news of the crash.
The twin-engine Piper PA 34 had departed from Hanscom Field in Bedford, Mass., and was headed to Rome, N.Y., before it crashed just after 5 p.m., Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said.
Officials haven't yet identified the passengers or the pilot.
Witnesses described the destruction that started in the air above Ephratah, a sleepy town of about 700.
The parking lot of Granny's Ice Cream Shanty, 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.
The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating what caused the crash.
Angel Flight Northeast, founded in 1996, said it has set up free air transportation and medical care for more than 65,000 children and adults on about 60,000 flights covering more than 12 million miles.