FIRE ISLAND, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A small plane crashed Saturday afternoon in Moriches inlet off Long Island, killing the two people on board.
The crash happened near the east end of Fire Island at about 3 p.m. and the red and white Low Wing Globe Swift sunk shortly after impact.
Suffolk police have identified the two victims as Cyril Mclavin, 51, of Fresh Meadows and Andrew Messana, 72, of Bayside.
Authorities said the plane had just taken off from Spadaro Airport in nearby East Moriches.
Strong tides and darkness hampered the recovery effort but just after 11 p.m. Saturday night, the plane was lifted up out of the water and the bodies of the two victims inside were recovered.
Mclavin and Messana were presumed dead during the recovery effort because the plane was submerged for hours, according to police.
A fisherman and other witnesses on shore ran over to secure the plane with rope.
“The same civilians who saw this plane sputtering, firing over land, they got into the water and they had, apparently, a long enough tow line with them where they attached the tow line to some part of the plane,” said Deputy Inspector Chris Hatton with the Suffolk County Marine Bureau.
A witness who heard the plane in distress said it happened very quickly.
“You could see he was in panic mode because the motor was sputtering and he was losing the motor,” the witness told CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu. “When he hit, a very loud noise and that was the last that would happen to him.”
Witnesses told investigators they saw the two men inside the plane already unconscious as the craft went down.
Federal aviation investigators are on scene looking into what caused the crash.
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