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Eyewitness to crash tells of chaotic scene

Andrew Salatti, 21, called 911 after he witnessed

Andrew Salatti, 21, called 911 after he witnessed the crash of the fixed-wing, single-engine Mooney M20J plane that killed two Long Island aviation students from Farmingdale State College, a third student also in the flight program, survived. (May 11, 2012) Credit: Kevin Deutsch

STERLING, Pa. -- Andrew Salatti was watching an episode of "House" with his mother and younger brother when he heard a plane's engine stall. A thunderous crash followed moments later.

"The whole house shook," Salatti, 21, said Friday. "We opened the blinds and saw a huge fireball."

From his house in rural Sterling, near Spring Hill Airport, Salatti had a clear view Wednesday night of the single-engine plane carrying three Farmingdale State College students.

The witness said a young man suddenly ran toward the house from the burning wreckage.

"Help, help! Call 911!" he screamed.

It was the sole survivor -- Evan Kisseloff, 21, of Oceanside. He had punched out one of the plane's windows, and his hands were bleeding.

"He had glass in his hand," Salatti recalled. "He was shaking like crazy. He was overwhelmed."

Salatti and his brother, Jim Hoffmann, 19, thought about rushing over to try to rescue passenger Casey Falconer, 19, of Garden City Park, and the pilot, Patrick Sheridan, 34, of Long Beach. But after more explosions and giant plumes of fire, they realized it was too late.

Falconer and Sheridan didn't survive the 10:30 p.m. crash, about 40 feet from Salatti's home.

Salatti said he could feel the heat from the fire on his face and soon was showered with black ash.

Kisseloff, he said, was distraught and desperate. Salatti and his mother, Christina Hoffman, did their best to comfort the stranger.

Minutes later, Casey Falconer's mother, who had dropped the three Long Islanders off at the airport, showed up at the home.

When she spotted the battered Kisseloff and the burning wreckage, she broke down.

"She just sat here crying," Salatti said.

Police and fire officials arrived soon after and tended to Kisseloff and Falconer's mother, whose name was not available.

Salatti, a basement waterproofer, described the incident as "frightening."

"I'm trying to get over that noise," he said.

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