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Cops to resume Setauket Harbor plane crash search in morning

Suffolk County police said three men were rescued and a fourth man is missing after a small plane crashed late Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016, into the waters of Setauket Harbor. (Credit: Stringer News Service)

With a missing man’s family scanning the waters of Setauket Harbor Monday, Suffolk police officials said they plan to send divers into the water again Tuesday following a weekend small-plane crash.

The man, Gerson Salmon-Negron, 23, of Queens, was a passenger in the single-engine, four-seat Piper Archer that splashed down in Setauket Harbor late Saturday. Three other men were rescued by Suffolk police marine officers, some using marine bureau rescue boats, life rings and even kayaks from homes along the shore.

Darcy Salmon, 39, the missing man’s sister, spent the afternoon with her family staring at the calm waters of Setauket Harbor, searching for any sign of her little brother.

She said she has been in regular contact with a detective who said the search had not been suspended.

“He said there were boats out here but I don’t know where,” she said through tears. “The thing is, the plane went down by private houses somewhere so the only access I have is through them.”

She said she would consider knocking on random doors nearby, but that she would not even know where in the harbor to look.

The plane, returning to Republic Airport in East Farmingdale from a trip to Massachusetts, lost power and went down abruptly after 11 p.m. Saturday.

A recording by LiveATC.net of the conversation between the plane’s pilot and the Republic tower shows those onboard had to make a snap decision to land the plane in the water.

Pilot: “We just had an engine failure.”

Tower: “Number 099, You need some help?”

Pilot: “We have to set down on the shoreline.”

Rescued were the student pilot, Austrico Ramirez, 25, of the Bronx; his flight instructor, Nelson Gomez, 36, of Queens; and Salmon-Negron’s friend Wady Perez, 25, of Queens. They were taken to Stony Brook University Hospital, treated and released after the crash.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini said on Sunday that the men spent about a half-hour in the freezing waters and their lives were in danger when they were rescued by marine bureau officers.

Alejandro LaTorre was among nine members of the Lambda Theta Phi fraternity from the City University of New York who had been searching the shores of Setauket Harbor since 9:30 a.m., looking for any sign of their fraternity brother.

“A lot of people have been talking about how this is no longer a rescue, but a recovery,” LaTorre, 31, of Staten Island, said of Salmon-Negron. “But to be honest, we’re still very hopeful. Anyone who knows him knows that he’s a survivor and a fighter, and that he would do whatever it takes to get back home to his mother and the rest of his family.”

LaTorre said he had seen low-flying planes above the harbor throughout the day.

Salmon-Negron’s mother, Ivette Salmon, 59, who lives with him in Elmhurst, Queens, said Sunday that the men had flown to Massachusetts to celebrate the birthday of Perez, one of her son’s best friends.

“I just want him to show up,” she said. “I don’t care how. . . . He’s my only son.” She said she last spoke with her son Saturday.

Monday, police said they would resume the search about 9 a.m. Tuesday.

With Gary Dymski

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