Rescue workers on Sunday did not find the two people still missing from the crash of a twin-engine plane Saturday in the waters off Amagansett and suspended the search because of “deteriorating sea conditions,” East Hampton Town police said.
Several law enforcement agencies had been searching nonstop for the two people aboard the Piper PA-31 Navajo since shortly after it crashed about 3:20 p.m. Saturday.
As dive teams, Coast Guard cutters and several other first responders searched into Sunday afternoon, winds picked up and waves were cresting at between 4 and 8 feet, adding to the already challenging conditions, officials said.
The four people aboard when the plane crashed were identified early Sunday as East End builder Bernard Krupinski, 70; his wife, Bonnie Krupinski, 70; William Maerov, 22 — all of East Hampton — and the pilot, Jon Dollard, 47, of Hampton Bays, according to a news release from the police department. Maerov is the Krupinskis’ grandson.
“The Krupinski, Bistrian, Maerov and Dollard families are grateful for the sincere outpouring of support from so many who knew and loved them,” family representatives said in a statement posted on Instagram Sunday evening. “We extend our deep appreciation to the U.S. Coast Guard and other emergency responders on land, sea and air including the East Hampton Town Police Department, NY and scores of others.
“A memorial service will be announced in coming weeks. In honor of Ben & Bonnie, with whom we have been fortunate to work as members of their extended family, we continue their commitment to delivering excellence in service to all of you in the community.”
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash, said spokesman Terry Williams, but agency representatives are not on the scene. Williams said he had no information to release but expected more details on Monday.
Two bodies were recovered from the Atlantic Ocean Saturday, but their identities had not been confirmed as of Sunday afternoon, said James Curto, a spokesman for the Coast Guard’s Long Island sector. The identities of those still missing were not available.
About 11 a.m. Sunday, relatives of those aboard the twin-engine plane met with East Hampton Town police to get updates about the search.
The focus of the search appeared to have moved west from restive ocean waters about 2 miles off Indian Wells Beach to an area off Wainscott Beach as officials moved their command center to an area off Beach Lane in Wainscott. The water depth in both areas is between 30 and nearly 100 feet, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.
The Long Island weather forecast calls for winds of at least 15 mph and periods of rain and thunderstorms on Monday.
“The wind can affect the ability to detect objects in the water. It causes it to be more choppy,” Curto said.
It was not clear when or if a renewed search involving Coast Guard cutters, helicopters and the resources of several other agencies would take place. Coast Guard Petty Officer Donald Newton said a dive team from the East Hampton Town Police Department would be back in the water Tuesday morning.
The plane crashed about 2 miles off shore near Indian Wells Beach, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement Saturday.
The agency had lost contact with the plane at 2:33 p.m., and the Coast Guard received a report of a debris field about an hour later, said U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman Lt. Alaina Fagan Saturday.
East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said that according to preliminary information he received, the plane went down during a thunderstorm Saturday. “The initial report I received was that they were going through a squall,” Fagan said.
After the crash, a command post was set up outside the entrance to the beach on Indian Wells Highway to coordinate the search, which included teams from the East Hampton Town police, the Coast Guard, Suffolk police and private boats.
A Coast Guard helicopter based at Cape Cod and Suffolk’s aviation unit had also searched around the debris field.
Beach Lane, which was closed to the public Sunday with only emergency crews and residents allowed in, was reopened after the search was suspended.
The Krupinskis owned restaurants and real estate together and were well-known in the East End social and political scene. Bernard Krupinski, also known as Ben, was a builder to the celebrity set who counted Billy Joel and Martha Stewart among his clients. Bonnie Krupinski was a developer and businesswoman.
Joel and Stewart released statements Sunday about the Krupinskis.
“I’m shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Ben and Bonnie Krupinski,” Joel said. “Ben undertook to get my East Hampton house project completed in the 1980s when the construction progress had been stalled due to bad management.”
Stewart said she was “devastated by the news of the untimely passing of my dear friends, Ben and Bonnie Krupinski,”
She described Maerov as “an outstanding young man — very curious, well educated, well-traveled and a delight to be with.”
In his spare time, Bernard Krupinski was an avid pilot, with multiple planes registered, according to the FAA.
Alejandro Silva of East Hampton, Stewart’s local gardener for 25 years, said he delivered the bad news to her at her Westchester County home.
“It was very sad,” he said, adding the Krupinskis were “very friendly to everybody here.”
Silva said he went to Indian Wells Beach on Sunday morning to pay his respects.
“This town lost a very great person,” Silva said of Ben Krupinski.
Dollard was a waiter at Oakland’s Restaurant and Marina in the early 1990s before he became a pilot, restaurant co-owner Christine Oakland Hill said Sunday morning. Long after Dollard had moved on, he had remained a regular customer at the restaurant.
Dollard was “just amazing,” Oakland Hill said. “Always upbeat. Just awesome.”
She said the restaurant staff is in mourning.
“He’s been with us since the very beginning,” Oakland Hill said. “This is so shocking.”
The crash was the second involving a small plane on Long Island in less than a week.
On Wednesday, a World War II-era military trainer went down in a wooded area of Melville, killing its sole occupant, Ken Johansen, a member of the GEICO Skytypers stunt team that had performed at the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach.
With David M. Schwartz
Statement from Martha Stewart
“I am devastated by the news of the untimely passing of my dear friends, Ben and Bonnie Krupinski and their grandson William Maerov. Ben and Bonnie were my friends from the moment I met them in the early 1990s.
I was fortunate to work with Builder Ben as I always called him on the renovation of my 1878 home in East Hampton. I loved his ability to problem solve and build beautiful homes. Together they were generous philanthropists and supporters of East End businesses.
Bonnie became my dear friend and always exuded charm and practical good sense. When they began raising their grandchildren they did so with gusto, intelligence and a sense of wonder and love.
Will, their grandson was an outstanding young man-very curious, well educated, well-traveled and a delight to be with. I spent a lot of time with Will, advising him on business plans and together we planned his grandparents 70th birthday party last summer. His potential was lost in this very unexpected way.
I will miss each of them so very, very much.”
Martha Stewart June 3, 2018