UNION VALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Officials say a second person has died in Saturday’s plane crash in Dutchess County.
The Cessna aircraft plunged into a family home and investigators are trying to figure out why, CBS2’s Reena Roy reported.
“There is going to be certainly a great deal of work underway. There’s not a lot of questions that can be answered at the moment,” Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said earlier Sunday.
Neighbors on South Smith Road said they were startled by a loud sound and then they saw homes go up in flames.
“I was in my house and I heard boom boom,” witness Rick Plambeck said.
“I was sitting on my living room chair here and all of a sudden a big bang,” neighbor Albert Poelzi added. “I heard a big boom.”
Authorities said the small plane began its journey in Orange County, but stopped at Sky Acres Airport nearby to re-fuel on its way to Farmingdale, Long Island. Shortly after takeoff the pilot reported engine troubles.
The plane then crashed into a two-story home, causing the building to burst into flames.
The pilot, identified as 61-year-old Francisco Knipping-Diaz, was killed. His two passengers survived the impact, officials said.
“It appears that the plane struck the south side of the residence, causing major structural damage, so the exact point of impact will be determined through the NTSB and the FAA,” said Daniel Smith of the New York State Police.
“The house was fully engulfed. The two passengers from the plane were walking out toward the road, trying to help each other because they were injured,” witness Yvonne Skinner said.
Three people were inside the house. Gerard Bocker, 61, was killed. Two women, ages 21 and 30, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
“There was a woman in the house and she jumped out of the window onto a ladder with her dog, and she told us that there was a man in the house, which was her father,” Plambeck said.
Neighbors told Roy the family has lived in the home for decades.
“They’re very nice people always,” Poelzi said. “I said God almighty, how’d that happen?”
Authorities said there were also several pets inside the home when the plane crashed. The community is now pitching in to help provide the family with some comfort, hoping to find their three dogs who escaped during the commotion.
“Hopefully they’ll be able to have a little bit of a positive experience getting the dogs back or, unfortunately, if they’re injured, that they have a little closure. But the neighborhood’s not going to stop until we find them,” Skinner said.
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are working together on the investigation.