NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Federal investigators were on the scene of Wednesday night’s deadly plane crash off Breezy Point, Queens.

Pieces of the plane were piled on a dock, as investigators tried to figure out why it plunged into the water.

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The National Transportation Safety Board said it was still searching the water for the engine.

“We are still looking for a couple of pieces, I hear are out there still, but we have gathered most of the plane,” NTSB Investigator Heidi Moats said.

The tail and fuselage were separated, but were recovered largely intact.

The NTSB said the plane did not have a data recorder, but may have GPS devices that will aid in the investigation.

They said the probe will focus on three areas.

“Overall we will be looking at the man, the machine, and the environment during the investigation,” Moats said.

A preliminary report will be issued in about 10 days.

It will take about a year to finish the final report.

The crash left many residents shaken.

“I’m shocked,” one resident told CBS2’s Andrea Grymes. “I’m upset.”

“From my living room window you could just see flashing lights and sirens; they just kept coming one after the other,” another resident said. “Catastrophic; as bad as it is, it could’ve hit a house.”

“We see small planes flying around all the time,” one resident told 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern. “It’s obviously terrible that it crashed.”

“I thought it was like a helicopter or something,” another resident told WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane. “But I didn’t know what it was and then we heard it was a meteor and then the next thing we know it was a plane.”

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“It’s actually frightening because we don’t know what happened, how it happened,” another woman said

Resident John Norton said he was on the beach Wednesday evening when he saw a small aircraft fly by in a way that caused him to take extra notice.

“We heard this plane coming and we looked up and it was really low and I said that’s strange,” Norton said.


Not long after — around 7:30 p.m. — police sources said a 911 caller reported seeing a low flying plane and a light that disappeared into the water about a mile and a half off Breezy Point.

Norton’s not sure it was the same aircraft, but says it’s a strange coincidence.

“He was joyriding around, but I don’t know if that was the plane that crashed, but it was really low and we noticed it because all my neighbors heard it,” Norton said.

The NYPD Special Operations Unit tweeted photos of the plane and the response.

The aircraft that crashed was a two-seater, believed to be a Cirrus SR22, and was headed for Portsmouth, New Hampshire from Philadelphia, police said.

The NYPD recovered the body of the male pilot around 11 p.m. Wednesday. Officials said he was the only one on board the plane, Grymes reported.

The identity of the victim has not yet been released.

The NTSB will hold a briefing on the crash Thursday afternoon.

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