Investigators believe they’ve recovered most of the small plane that broke up and fell from the sky over Syosset on Tuesday, killing three occupants, but authorities said residents may still find wreckage.
Nassau County police, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators worked through the night to secure the aircraft parts scattered in five sites across an estimated 1/3-mile-long debris field along Cold Spring Road.
“There may still be some pieces of the plane in and around the area,” Nassau Police Chief Steven Skrynecki told reporters Wednesday during a news conference near the scene. He urged residents to call police if they find plane parts or personal effects that may belong to the victims.
The Beech BE35, built in 1973, had taken off from Myrtle Beach, SC and was on its way to Robertson Field in Plainville, Conn. when the crash occurred at 3:39 p.m. Tuesday, the FAA has said. Nassau officials said that the pilot of the doomed craft had sent out a “mayday” call that was received at Republic Airport in Farmingdale.
Robert Gertz, an NTSB investigator, told reporters that a plane breaking up mid-air was a rarity, but not unprecedented. He said he’s seen about five such cases in his 18 years on the job.
“It’s not completely unheard of, but it’s not common,” Gertz said, noting that the plane appears to have broken apart and didn’t explode.
Nassau police said they are still working to confirm the identities of the three occupants killed in the crash. One body was found in the parking lot of the Long Island High School for the Arts, another was found in the nearby woods and the third was found 50 yards away in the Village of Oyster Bay Cove, police said.
Skrynecki noted that despite the tragic events, nobody on the ground was injured and the only property damage appears to have been minor, from a wing hitting a house.
The incident prompted the Syosset School District to order students and faculty at three nearby schools to stay indoors while the investigation was underway. Residents in the area reported hearing buzzing and a loud boom when the plane came down.
The NTSB is continuing its investigation into the cause of the crash.