EPHRATAH, N.Y. (NEWS CENTER/AP) - A volunteer Angel Flight crash in Ephratah killed two Friday night, and a search is underway for the missing pilot.
Pieces of the airplane that crashed near Garoga, NY on Route 29 are now scattered across a one mile debris field.
"I heard this airplane made a circle, then two circles around," said Charles Barry.
Barry, a volunteer firefighter, tells the NEWS CENTER he was working out in his yard when he heard the plane crash.
"It was loud soft than loud soft then heard it go bang," he said.
"We believe the plane was having difficulties that's why it began circling the area," said Sheriff Thomas Lorey.
Lorey says the plane had three people on board, two men and one woman. The FAA confirms that the aircraft left from Bedford, Mass. and was heading to Rome, N.Y. The sheriff says two of the victims were found dead, rescue workers are still searching for the third.
"Heard one big bang, then one big crunch where I knew it hit the ground," said Barry.
"State police won't fly in this weather and can't assist us in this search for safety reasons," said the Sheriff.
Officials haven't yet identified the passengers or pilot.
The twin-engine Piper PA 34 departed from Hanscom Field in Bedford, Mass., and was headed to Rome, N.Y., before it crashed just after 5 p.m., Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said.
President and founder of Angel Flight Larry Camerlin, told the Associated Press the organization was "tremendously saddened" by the tragic news of the crash. Angel Flight is a nonprofit group that arranges free air transportation for sick patients from volunteer pilots.
Full statement fromAngel Flight Northeast:
"Angel Flight Northeast (AFNE) is assisting authorities in Fulton County, NY as it investigates a plane crash that occurred early this evening. AFNE was notified at 5:45 p.m. by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in Nashua, NH that the FAA had lost contact with an Angel Flight traveling from Bedford, MA to Rome, NY. At approximately 6:30 p.m., the Fulton County, NY Sheriff's Department notified Angel FlightNE of a report of an aircraft down. AFNE confirms that a flight was scheduled today between Bedford, MA and Rome, NY with a pilot and two passengers on board.
Fulton County authorities have since informed AFNE that two people are confirmed dead in the crash and the search for the third individual continues. The identities of the individuals have not been released.
"Angel FlightNE staff and volunteers are tremendously saddened by this tragedy and we all offer our thoughts and prayers to the families of those affected," said Larry Camerlin, founder and president of Angel Flight Northeast. "Our volunteer pilots are the most compassionate and generous individuals who donate their time, aircraft and fuel to transport patients and loved ones for free to essential medical care that would otherwise not be readily available to them. There are no words that can adequately express our sorrow."
Angel Flight Northeast is a not for profit organization that arranges free air transportation for patients with need who require access to medical care. Transportation is provided by volunteer pilots donate their time, planes and fuel. Since Angel Flight NE was founded in 1996, the organization has arranged free air transportation to medical care for more than 65,000 children and adults on approximately 60,000 flights covering a total of more than 12 million miles."
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating what might have caused the crash.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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