Orange County Midair Tragedy Shrouded In Mystery

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Two small planes crashed in a wooded area in upstate New York Monday, killing 2 friends who were headed back to New Jersey.

The deadly collision between the single-engine planes occurred around 3 p.m. in New Hampton, which is about 60 miles north of New York City.

State police Capt. Joseph A. Tripodo said that when the planes collided they left substantial wreckage at two impact sites a couple of hundred yards apart.

“One plane burst into flames, one plane did not,” he said.

Two pilots flew one plane from Sussex, N.J., to Orange County Airport and picked up another plane, Tripodo said. They took off from Orange County Airport about 2:40 p.m., heading back to Sussex, and crashed within about 15 minutes.

One witness, who lived near the scene, spoke to CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey and said she was tending to her garden when the collision occurred.

“I happened to look up just as the two planes one hit the other,” she said. The woman told Hennessey that she watched one of the planes “spiral down” and the other one glide further away.

“I just heard like the rpms going low and high and low and high,” another witness, Toniann Nevit, said.

“Sounded like tin cans crunching and then we looked up, we seen both of them side by side hitting each other,” Tom Boyle said.

The skies were clear with visibility of 10 miles and winds at 15 mph, with gusts up to 23 mph, National Weather Service meteorologist Lauren Nash said.

Initial reports that one person was critically injured were unfounded. Because the bodies were found outside the planes, investigators don’t know which plane each victim was in when they crashed.

Rescuers reached one plane quickly and could see the other from the air but had a difficult time getting to it because of the dense woods.

“The conditions in the woods are extremely difficult — muddy, thick forest, hard to traverse,” Tripodo said.

The identities of the dead weren’t immediately confirmed.

One plane was registered to Edward J. Crump, from Boonton, N.J., and the other plane to Gary L. Delia, of Sussex, N.J. It isn’t known if Crump and Delia were the victims or were even aboard the plane.

The FAA and NTSB are now both trying to piece together what exactly happened and why.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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