WHITE PLAINS, NY (WJW) — Passenger Binyamin Chafetz called his wife just before his plane crashed. “He wanted to say goodbye,” New York authorities said on Friday.
The plane carrying Chafetz and pilot Boruch Taub, both from the Cleveland area, was en route to the Cuyahoga County Airport when it crashed Thursday night, killing both of them.
The small, single-engine Beechcraft A36 reported low oil pressure at 5:20 p.m. Thursday, and Taub made an emergency landing at nearby Westchester County Airport in White Plains.
The plane crashed around 5:38 p.m. in a heavily forested area near Rye Lake, less than two miles from the airport runway, Westchester County authorities told reporters Friday.
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The plane took off from Queens’ John F. Kennedy International Airport on Thursday and was bound for Cuyahoga County Airport in Richmond Heights, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Responders searched for hours by air, land and sea, and an ongoing thunderstorm complicated the response and drones were ineffective. According to Westchester County chief executive George Latimer, emergency responders ultimately used cell phone location data to pinpoint the site of the crash.
They found the wreckage in a tree nearly five hours later, confirming the deaths of Chafetz and Taub.
Latimer said investigators learned that Chafetz had contacted his wife by phone in the final minutes before the crash.
Taub and Chafetz are “members of the Orthodox religious community,” Latimer said. Their bodies are currently being returned to Cleveland to be buried in accordance with their religious tradition, he said.
“They leave a hole at their dining table, in their homes. They leave a hole in their communities — communities of faith,” Latimer said.
“Let’s pray for Mr. Taub. Let’s pray for Mr. Chafetz and their families,” he later added.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA will continue the investigation.
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