In seconds, Evan Kisseloff went from being the backseat passenger on a night flight headed for East Farmingdale to a sole survivor in a plane on fire, trying in vain to rouse his mortally wounded friends.
"He screamed to them, 'Get out! Get out!' but they were unresponsive," said Kisseloff's father, Alan, of Ormond Beach, Fla. "That's when he got out of the plane through a broken window."
Evan Kisseloff called his father after the crash to tell him of his narrow escape in northern Pennsylvania on Wednesday night. Killed in the crash were fellow Farmingdale State College flying students Patrick Sheridan, 34, of Long Beach, and Casey Falconer, 19, of Garden City Park.
The plane piloted by Sheridan crashed at the end of the runway while taking off about 10:30 p.m. from Spring Hill Airport in Sterling, Pa. It stalled, fell to the ground and burst into flames, according to Evan Kisseloff's account.
After making it out of the wreckage, he dialed 911 on his cellphone. Through a thicket of trees he saw light coming from a window of a nearby home. He ran to the house for help and called his parents and authorities, his father said.
He sustained a cracked rib and some minor bruises and lacerations, Alan Kisseloff said of his son, who was scheduled to graduate with a degree in aviation management Saturday from Farmingdale State and hopes to get a job flying with JetBlue Airlines. He was treated at a hospital and released.
Alan Kisseloff said his son told him he is "still in shock" over the crash and mourning the loss of Falconer, his best friend. He is also wracked with a sense of survivor guilt, especially because he and Falconer have been all but inseparable the past two years.
The trio had set out from Republic Airport earlier Wednesday and landed first in Lancaster, Pa., for what Alan Kisseloff described as a field trip.
"How do you explain that one survives and two don't," Alan Kisseloff said Thursday. "Casey Falconer was his best friend. They did everything together. I think he's still in shock. . . . Right now, he's trying to calm down and digest what happened. You have a tremendous feeling of guilt when you survive."