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College to honor 2 in fatal plane crash

Air safety investigators at the accident scene of

Air safety investigators at the accident scene of the plane crash in Wayne Co, Pa. (May 11, 2012) Credit: Photo by Keith R. Stevenson

STERLING, Pa. - The two aviation students who died in a Pennsylvania plane crash will be remembered at Farmingdale State College's commencement ceremony Saturday.

The names of the victims -- Patrick Sheridan, 34, of Long Beach, and Casey Falconer, 19, of Garden City Park -- will be read aloud during the invocation. Electronic signs at the entrance to campus will also carry a message in memoriam, college officials said.

The lone survivor of the Wednesday night crash, Evan Kisseloff, 21, of Oceanside, is expected to attend the graduation, receiving a degree in aviation management.

"It will be felt. Everybody is going to be thinking about this," said Paul Pilipshen, 39, of East Islip, who is graduating Saturday and knew Sheridan.

At the crash scene in Sterling, Pa., investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board examined the charred wreckage Friday, searching for clues.

Ralph Hicks, NTSB's lead investigator, said 80 percent of the plane was destroyed by fire after it crashed in a wooded area 2,250 feet from the end of the runway at Spring Hill Airport.

"Every piece" of the plane has been accounted for, Hicks said. He said the wreckage will be hauled to a hangar in Clayton, Del., where investigators will try to determine the cause of the crash.

"We're looking at the whole, big picture. We'll take it apart and see what's left," Hicks said.

The crash occurred about 10:30 p.m., with the three students en route to Republic Airport in East Farmingdale. The single-engine Mooney M20J apparently stalled on takeoff, clipped some trees and slammed into the ground, authorities said.

Sheridan, the pilot, was a student in the school's professional pilot program, as was Falconer, the college said.

Sheridan's license was in good standing, with no record of any enforcement actions by the Federal Aviation Administration, officials said.

The students had dinner Wednesday with Falconer's parents at their home in the Poconos and were returning to Republic Airport at the time of the crash, Kisseloff's father said.

Kisseloff, who suffered a cracked rib and bruises, was treated and released. From the rear passenger seat, he escaped the burning plane by crawling through a window, then called for help, authorities and witnesses said.

Wayne County Coroner Edward Howell said autopsies on Falconer and Sheridan were completed Friday. Toxicology tests, routine in NTSB investigations, were also done, he said. No results have been released.

Ben Struck, chief flight instructor at the Farmingdale college, said he and the 30 students in the pilot education class are grieving and trying to figure out how to honor the students who died.

"They were good kids," he said.

With Candice Ferrette

and Ellen Yan

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