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Long IslandSuffolk

Plane search is now ‘recovery effort,’ East Hampton cops say

Land searches will continue, officials say, but another day of choppy seas and gusts suspended Monday’s efforts to recover victims and the aircraft.

East Hampton Town police drive along the beach

East Hampton Town police drive along the beach at the end of Indian Wells Highway in Amagansett on Monday. Photo Credit: John Roca

Strong winds and high surf stalled efforts Monday to find two of the four people aboard a small plane that crashed in waters off Amagansett, authorities said.

Search teams recovered two bodies Saturday after the Piper PA-31 Navajo went down that afternoon about two miles off the coast of Indian Wells Beach.

East Hampton Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo called off Monday’s search just before 5 p.m.

Land searches are continuing, Sarlo said, but rescue workers are waiting for “winds and surf conditions to improve” before resuming the search for victims and the plane.

Sarlo said in a statement earlier Monday that search was now a recovery effort.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the agency is in the “early stages” of its investigation, according to a statement Monday from spokesman Terry Williams.

He said a preliminary report is expected in about a week. It will be about a year before the agency releases a detailed report on the crash, Williams said.

Police have identified the four people aboard the plane as builder Bernard Krupinski and his wife, Bonnie Krupinski, both 70; William Maerov, 22 — all of East Hampton — and the pilot, Jon Dollard, 47, of Hampton Bays. Maerov is the Krupinskis’ grandson.

Waves in the search area on Monday were 5 to 6 feet close to shore, with morning winds of 10 to 15 mph, the National Weather Service said.

“When you get farther out, say 20 miles out, the wave heights will be about 7 feet and winds 15 to 20 mph,” said John Cristantello, a meteorologist with the weather service in Upton.

Sarlo said marine patrol vessels, divers and equipment from several jurisdictions would be available should search teams find the plane’s wreckage. He cautioned commercial fishing vessels to avoid dragging or deploying lines in the area.

Monday’s search followed nonstop efforts to find victims and the plane that began shortly after the plane hit the water. Authorities suspended the search Sunday afternoon, also because of rough ocean conditions.

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, officials said.

“This is always a difficult decision, and we cannot imagine the pain of those families who have lost their loved ones,” Coast Guard Capt. Kevin B. Reed, commander of Sector Long Island Sound, said in a statement Sunday after the search had been suspended.

Relatives of the victims have said plans for a memorial service will be announced in the coming weeks.

In an Instagram post on Sunday night, representatives for the victims’ families thanked rescue teams and praised the work of the Krupinskis — known for their philanthropic efforts and professional and personal ties to East Hampton celebrities.

“The Krupinski, Bistrian, Maerov and Dollard families are grateful for the sincere outpouring of support from so many who knew and loved them,” the statement said. . . . “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.”

With Lisa Irizarry and David M. Schwartz

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