Victims in local plane crash identified

EPHRATAH – The three people who died in a plane crash Friday night have been identified.

Fulton County Sheriff Thomas Lorey said Sunday the victims have been identified as pilot John N. Campbell, 70, of Stamford, Conn., along with passengers Evelyn A. Amerosa, 58, and her husband Frank Amerosa, 64, both of Utica.

Two of the victims have been found. He said Frank Amerosa’s body has not been located, but he is presumed dead.

Lorey, speaking at a press conference Sunday at the Rockwood-Garoga-Lassellsville Volunteer Fire Company’s firehouse – said the passengers were a married couple from Utica, one of whom had been receiving medical treatment near Bedford, Mass., where the plane took off. The flight was scheduled to land in Rome, N.Y.

Lorey said authorities were conducting an air search Sunday, which they had been unable to do because of the weather.

“We have just began an air search because the weather has not been good,” Lorey said on Sunday. “We have had a land search that has been on going since yesterday morning and the search will continue until we have some [resolution.]”

He said the release of the victims’ names was delayed because the bodies already found had to be identified and information was coming from another state.

The fuselage of the plane, which includes the cockpit and passenger compartment, has been found at the bottom of a reservoir owned by Canadian renewable energy company Brookfield Power, which operates a dam near the crash site.

Lorey said a state police dive team has searched the area around the wreckage of the plane and hasn’t found the third body, but it could still be inside the remains of the plane. He said the dive team has not been able to search the interior of the wreck because it has been deemed too dangerous.

He said the portion of the aircraft located in the water has been moved by divers to a different part of the pond and is expected to be recovered in the next couple of days.

RGL Fire Chief Mark Souza said 11 departments and agencies are participating in the search for the body and parts of the plane. He said more than 100 people have been involved in the search and 40 of them were in the woods Sunday.

“Without the participation and effort of these volunteer departments and other volunteer agencies this search wouldn’t be possible,” Lorey said.

State Forest Ranger Lt. Steven Preston said more than 2,000 acres have been covered so far. The search has concentrated on looking at the debris field and path of the plane before it crashed, he said.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will take over investigation of the crash after the third body is located, Lorey said. Those agencies will attempt to determine the cause of the crash and if weather conditions were factors.

Lorey said the two bodies were found just south of the highway and were found about 500 yards from one another.

The pilot was associated with Angel Flight Northeast, a division of the Angel Flight not-for-profit flying organization that provides air transportation and volunteer pilots for people with serious medical needs.

An Albany attorney who is a volunteer pilot for Angel Flight, identified the two passengers as a cancer patient and his wife.

Terence Kindlon said he and another lawyer, Dale Thuillez, had flown the couple to Boston on Friday morning in Thuillez’s plane. Kindlon, 66, said the husband was being treated for glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer. He said they seemed like a happy pair.

“We were both former Marines and had been in Vietnam pretty close together in time,” Kindlon said. “We hit it right off. He was a nice guy.”

National Transportation Safety Board investigators who returned to the crash site Sunday aim to retrieve the bulk of the wreckage from the water over the next few days, said agency spokesman Eric Weiss. They are looking for smartphones, GPS devices, computer tablets or other items that could “give the investigators some electronic evidence of what happened in the last minutes of flight,” he said.

Wreckage from the crash was dispersed over a large area, with pieces of the plane found as far as 5 miles away. Witnesses said they heard an explosion while the plane was in the air.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.