AMAGANSETT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Coast Guard has suspended its search for a small plane that crashed near East Hampton, killing two and leaving two missing and presumed dead.
Police said crews suspended the search for the plane and the two missing passengers due to rapidly deteriorating sea conditions. Law enforcement will continue to search on land.
“Following a tireless search for the two individuals who remain missing, it is with deep sadness that we are suspending the active search efforts,” Capt. Kevin B. Reed, commander Sector Long Island Sound, said in a statement. “This is always a difficult decision, and we cannot imagine the pain of those families who have lost their loved ones.”
The Federal Aviation Administration said the Piper PA31 aircraft went down about 3 p.m. Saturday. East Hampton Town Police identified the people on board as 70-year-old builder Bernard Krupinski, 70-year-old Bonnie Krupinski, 22-year-old William Maerov and 47-year-old pilot Jon Dollard.
The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the cause of the crash.
“It’s horrible,” one East Hampton resident said. “It was a horrible storm. Also maybe that had something to do with it.”
“Sad,” resident Victor Barrera added. “It’s very sad. The storm was very strong.”
The Coast Guard and local police were assisted in the search by crews from commercial fishing boats.
Bernard Krupinski grew up in East Hampton before starting his business, Ben Krupinski Builders, there. As a builder, his clients included Martha Stewart and Billy Joel.
Congressman Lee Zeldin released a statement saying in part: “I knew Ben and Bonnie well and was very saddened by the tragic news of their passing. They were a larger than life couple everyone knew, loved, and respected.”
“There’s just a huge hole in the heart of this town right now,” East Hampton Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc added.
Van Scoyoc told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner the Krupinskis always took care of people in the community.
“They quietly gave millions of dollars to various charitable causes, to people who were in need,” Van Scoyoc said. “People with medical issues. They arranged flights and medical services for locals.
“They did not to draw attention to themselves but because they loved the community that they lived in,” Van Scoyoc added.
“I rented my first business space from them 30 years ago and like nothing he gave me my biggest break,” Amagansett resident Bernadette O’Brien added.
Van Scoyoc said the Krupinskis were one of the biggest employers in town and they were close with their staff.
Former town supervisor and friend Jay Schneiderman said Ben Krupinski loved to fly.
“He had some really experienced pilots and I know he was extremely cautious. Bonnie as well. They would not fly if they thought there was any danger. They’d rather drive,” Schneiderman said.
The identities of the two victims recovered are being held pending confirmation from the Suffolk County Medical Examiners Office.
Van Scoyoc said it’s possible the search could resume on Tuesday.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)