Coast Guard vessels continued to search for survivors Sunday morning after a small private plane crashed into Atlantic Ocean off the Hamptons Saturday after taking off from Connecticut.

“It’s still an active search and rescue operation,” Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer Steve Strohmaier said shortly before 7:30 a.m.

He said search parties would meet this morning in Quogue to reassess the situation.

Authorities did not release the identities of the three people the Federal Aviation Administration said were aboard the twin-engine Piper PA-34 bound for Charleston, South Carolina, that crashed about a mile off Quogue.

Only small pieces of the plane, which seats seven, were found, officials said.

A Coast Guard official on Saturday said Southampton police divers were assisting in the effort. He said the Coast Guard was using sonar to scan the seabed for the fuselage. 

 An 87-foot Coast Guard patrol boat had been expected to continue the search overnight Saturday, officials said.

Police and other first responders in Westhampton Beach on Saturday.

Police and other first responders in Westhampton Beach on Saturday. Credit: James Carbone

The FAA said it will investigate and the National Transportation Safety Board "will determine the probable cause for the accident."

Calls to 911 from surfers who reported seeing the plane sputter and crash just before 11 a.m. brought scores of first responders to Dune Road, gathering near the Quogue Beach Club for search-and-rescue efforts.

The plane's flight began Saturday morning from Connecticut’s Waterbury-Oxford Airport, and it landed at Danbury Municipal Airport before taking off again, said Alisa D. Sisic, a spokeswoman for the Connecticut Airport Authority. The plane was bound for Charleston Executive Airport, the FAA said.

Calls to 911 started coming in at 10:59 a.m., and a Coast Guard spokesman said one reported seeing the plane break apart in the air. There was light rain and winds of about 10 mph in the area at the time, according to the National Weather Service.

This Piper PA-34-200 Seneca is similar to the one crashed...

This Piper PA-34-200 Seneca is similar to the one crashed into the Atlantic off of Quogue late Saturday morning, Oct. 13, 2018. Credit: Alamy

The plane crashed 3 miles south southeast of Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach, the FAA said.

John Morgan of Quogue said his son Tyler Morgan, 24, was playing golf with friends at nearby Quogue Field Club when he saw the plane go down.

“They saw it in the air and they just saw it come down,” said John Morgan, who went to the beach after the crash and saw several search boats on the water.

Authorities from Quogue police and fire departments, State Police, Suffolk County police, Southampton Town police and bay constables, Westhampton Beach Village police and firefighters, Suffolk County sheriffs, the Coast Guard, a commercial salvage crew with a dive team and the Air National Guard, among others, responded.

“There’s like every agency in the world down here,” said Quogue Mayor Peter Sartorius, noting that Dune Road was closed at the Quogue Bridge.

Earlier this year, small plane crashes left five dead on Long Island.

On May 30, two days after Memorial Day, a pilot died when his World War II-era plane went down in a wooded area in Melville.

On June 2, a small plane crashed off the coast of Amagansett during a storm, killing all four people on board. Pilot Jon Dollard of Hampton Bays lost control of the twin-engine Piper Navajo, according to an initial NTSB report in July. Dollard, 47, was carrying passengers Ben and Bonnie Krupinski, both 70, and their grandson William Maerov, 22, all of East Hampton, from Newport State Airport in Rhode Island to East Hampton Airport.

That wreckage was discovered about a mile south of Indian Wells Beach submerged in 50 feet of water, according to the report.
With Jean-Paul Salamanca, Khristopher Brooks and Laura Blasey

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