FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – There are still unanswered questions after two aviation students at Farmingdale State College on Long Island were killed in a small plane crash in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Federal investigators hope to figure out what exactly caused the single-engine Mooney M20J aircraft to go down Wednesday night.
The lone survivor of the crash, 21-year-old Evan Kisseloff, of Oceanside, said the plane stalled and caught fire.There are also reports the plane hit a tree, but the National Transportation Safety Board said it’s not clear at what point that happened.
“We’re going to be looking closely at the airport and the conditions at the time, verifying that the lights were all operational, those kinds of things,” said Ralph Hicks with the NTSB.
Flags outside Republic Airport and Farmingdale State College were at half staff Friday. Counselors were also made available on the college’s campus.
Two students at the school — 34-year-old pilot Patrick Sheridan of Long Beach and 19-year-old Casey Falconer of Garden City Park — were killed in the crash.
Neighbors sadly recalled the avid flyers, who were working toward professional pilot licenses. Falconer was an only child. The day trip they embarked on was for dinner with his parents.
“I heard that he had a passion for becoming a pilot. He was such a nice kid and he helped the neighbors,” said neighbor Rosilin Varughese.
Federal investigators said the pilot did log a flight plan, but crashed about a half-mile beyond the runway.
“We expect to be on site a couple of days here,” said Hicks. “We have a salvage crew that specializes in recovery, they’re on their way right now.”
Alan Kisseloff, Evan’s father, said it was pure luck that his son made it out alive.
“Evan was in the back seat of the plane. The plane landed and flipped over, but he saw that the window of the back of the plane was broken and he was able to pull himself out,” Kisseloff told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera.
1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reports
Kisseloff said his son has a lot of “bumps and bruises,” but will be alright.
“On the whole — considering what the outcome could have been — [he] considers himself very lucky,” he told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
Evan Kisseloff plans to attend commencement ceremonies on Saturday with a heavy heart.
WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reports
Patrick Calabria, Farmingdale’s vice president for Institutional Advancement, said the school is “in shock” and “trying to come to grips with this tragedy.”
“It’s very tough on us and of course, toughest on the families,” he told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall.
It could take at least five days before the NTSB issues a preliminary report on the crash.
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