By Christopher Twarowski, Rashed Mian and Michael Conforti
A single-engine plane crashed in Syosset Tuesday afternoon, killing its three occupants, sending nearby school children and faculty scrambling for cover, and drawing local first responders to the scene in and around Cold Spring Road. Students reported hearing a loud explosion and seeing debris falling from the sky in the vicinity of Syosset High School and South Woods Middle School.
The FAA confirmed the aircraft as a Beech BE35, which crashed at 3:39 p.m. on its way to Robertson Field in Plainville, CT from Myrtle Beach, SC.
A Nassau County police spokesperson at the scene described a large debris field and potential damage to nearby homes. Police and county officials did not elaborate on a probable cause of the accident.
The Syosset School District sent an automated message around 4 p.m. informing parents that an incident had occurred at approximately 3:40 p.m. and that police were requesting South Woods Middle School, Berry Hill Elementary School and Syosset High School personnel and children to remain indoors and that parents delay coming to the school until further notice.
Syosset Fire Department was searching the area and recovering and securing debris. Adjacent roads to the crash site were closed.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, on the scene, called the accident “tragic,” confirming that all three passengers had been killed, and that the pilot of the doomed craft had sent out a “mayday” that was received at Republic Airport in Farmingdale.
He added that the aircraft could hold up to seven passengers.
Lisa DeVito, who lives on Cold Spring Road, told the Press at the scene that she heard a “buzz like a zzzzz—and then boom!
“But it didn’t sound like an explosion,” she added, rather it “sounded like they dropped a tree trunk.”
DeVito said she observed what appeared to be a dead body in the middle of a street adjacent to her home, but did not see any debris nearby.
Jeanine DeStefani, another nearby resident, said she received calls from her two children asking whether she was okay. Her seventh-grader, who attends South Woods Middle School, was at lacrosse practice when the incident occurred and told her he saw debris falling from the sky.
“They heard a pop,” she said.
The FAA will investigate the crash and the National Transportation Safety Board will determine the probable cause, said the agency.