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Pilot 'reported engine problems' before Old Bethpage crash, FAA says

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino on Monday gave an update on the pilot of the twin-engine plane who, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, "reported engine problems" moments before he crash-landed on Bethpage-Sweet Hollow Road, about 1.5 miles short of Republic Airport, on Sunday afternoon in Old Bethpage. Credit: James Carbone

The pilot of a twin-engine plane that crashed in Old Bethpage Sunday afternoon reported engine trouble moments before the aircraft went down, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Officials said the Cessna C421, a twin-engine turboprop that can seat between six and eight people, crashed just after 1 p.m. on Bethpage-Sweet Hollow Road, about 1.5 miles short of Republic Airport.

The National Transportation Safety Board is in charge of the crash investigation, the FAA said in a statement.

Records show the plane is registered to 850 Atlantic Collision Inc., on Blake Avenue in Brooklyn.

It was not clear Monday whether the pilot, the only person aboard, declared an emergency before the crash.

Officials have not provided the identification of the male pilot, who was taken to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow. Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino said Monday the pilot was in "serious condition." He had just taken off from Republic Airport, Saladino said.

According to the Aviation Safety Network website, the plane was on its way to Connecticut.

In a statement, the FAA said: "A twin-engine Cessna C421 crashed on Bethpage Sweet Hollow Road in Bethpage, N.Y., approximately 1.5 miles from Republic Airport in East Farmingdale, N.Y., yesterday [Sunday] at 1:04 p.m. local time. The pilot reported engine problems."

Before the crash, a highway patrol officer "observed a small plane descending" that "appeared to be in distress," Nassau police said in a statement. Afterward, the officer located the wreckage, entered the plane "and found the pilot pinned in the cockpit."

The chief executive of 850 Atlantic Collision Inc. is Marc Capus, according to state incorporation records. Capus' wife, Cinzia, said late Sunday afternoon that the family is from Bellmore and her husband, who flies recreationally, was in surgery.

She said she had gotten a call while in church about the crash.

The Cessna struck a fence and the pilot narrowly missed an abandoned trash building about 50 yards away from the crash site, Saladino said at a news conference near the crash scene Sunday. The site of the crash is just west of several industrial parks and a half-mile east of Plainview Fire Department Station 3 as well as a densely populated residential area.

The former trash building is on a 135-acre town complex that includes a 40,000-square-foot solid-waste transfer station; a landfill gas collection system; a facility to weigh garbage and recyclables; a treatment facility for water that flows through municipal waste; and a vehicle maintenance garage, as well as offices and two incinerators that are not in use, according to a November article in Newsday.

"Had [the plane] gone 50 yards further," Saladino said, "it would have crashed into that abandoned building, and it most likely would have been a fatality."

Saladino returned to the crash scene Monday and said after rescuers offered to airlift the pilot to a hospital he told them: "Absolutely not. I don't want to go back up in the air."

With James Carbone

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