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Small plane crashes into Bowline Pond


Fireworks might be postponed

The town's fireworks display planned for tonight at Bowline Point Park might be postponed because of concerns about the aircraft in the water and its fuel. For an update, call Town Hall at 845-429-2200.

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(Original publication: July 1, 2005)


A 50-year-old New York City man escaped from his single-engine airplane after it went down in Bowline Pond in Haverstraw yesterday, state police said.

The pilot, Ilan Reich, was flying over from the west toward the Hudson River when he issued a mayday at 4:40 p.m. His Cirrus SR22 plane was equipped with a parachute that is intended to support the entire aircraft when deployed.

Reich deployed the chute as he coasted over the center of Haverstraw village, County Fire Coordinator Gordon Wren Jr. said.

Many village residents were alerted to the incoming plane when they heard a loud bang overhead, which was the sound of the parachute activation, State Police Sgt. Kevin P. Flynn said.

As the plane hit Bowline Pond, a cove off of the Hudson River near Warren Avenue, the man escaped through a window and the plane quickly sank, Flynn said.

Daniel Urena, 12, lives on Broadway and said the plane flew right over his home.

"The parachute came out. I thought something exploded. Then the wind came, and it went into the water," he said. "I thought all the houses would be crushed, and we would have to go somewhere else to live."

Urena and scores of others who lived nearby rushed to the waterfront as the plane went down.

Reyes Pichardo, 50, of Edgar Street, said in Spanish that he had just left work when he saw the plane coming.

"It was like a big explosion, like thunder," he said. "The pilot was inside the plane as the plane came down. When it fell into the water, he came out of the window. He already had his lifejacket on."

A half-mile to the north, Michael Weisberg of Montebello and his 5-year-old daughter, Carli, saw the plane go down as they were rowing a dinghy at Haverstraw Marina. He called 911, raced to his larger boat and headed into the Hudson to search for the plane.

"I figured that I could get there way before anyone else," Weisberg said. He didn't find the plane because it was in the cove.

Two lifeguards from Bowline Point Town Park swam out to help the pilot, and firefighters pulled him aboard the Haverstraw Fire Department's rescue boat about 300 feet from shore, Wren said.

The pilot was conscious and alert and was taken by Haverstraw Ambulance Corps to Nyack Hospital, County EMS Coordinator Kim Lippis said. Rockland Paramedic Services also responded.

Reich suffered no serious injuries but may have lost consciousness shortly before the crash, Lippis said.

"He said he wasn't feeling well," she said.

State police said the cause of the crash was under investigation and appeared to be the result of mechanical problems.

Dive teams from Stony Point Fire Department, New City Fire Department and Piermont Fire Department worked for two hours in the cove's 30-foot deep waters searching for the submerged plane.

It was discovered about 7 p.m. A buoy marks the spot. Officials weren't sure when the plane will be pulled from the water.

Rescue boats from the Rockland County Sheriff's Department, the state police, the state Park Police and the Westchester County Police stood by in the cove.

The U.S. Coast Guard sent the Cutter Penobscot Bay and a smaller vessel to assist, Petty Officer Michael Lutz said.

Wren said the pilot was headed to Westchester County Airport.

The plane was lost on the radar about 10 miles from Westchester County Airport, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Arlene Salac said.

The plane, tail No. 3452L, was owned by 52 Lima Corp. of New York City, she said.

The plane will remain in the cove until the FAA completes its own investigation of the crash, Flynn said.

State Assemblyman Ryan Karben, D-Monsey, said yesterday that the crash highlighted the need to create a no-fly zone over the Indian Point nuclear power plants. The crash site is about two miles southeast of Indian Point and within the plant's 10-mile evacuation zone.

"Today's plane crash occurred only a short distance from a major nuclear reactor," Karben said. "Establishing a no-fly zone and disrupting a flight pattern is a small price to pay if it means ensuring the safety and security of millions of New Yorkers."

"A catastrophe at Indian Point would be an emergency for the entire metropolitan region," Karben said. "We need to take proper preventative measures and minimize the potential for any sort of accident to occur."

Indian Point is owned by Entergy Nuclear Northeast. Jim Steets, a company spokesman, said the plane did not pose a risk to the safety of the plant.

"There's no question that a small plane could not penetrate or even cause minor damage to our containment building," Steets said.

The area around Indian Point already is a restricted fly zone, Steets said. Aircraft cannot linger near the plant or fly lower than 2,000 feet above it, Steets said.


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