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Small plane crashes near MacArthur Airport, 2 injured

The remains of this plane sit by 1620

The remains of this plane sit by 1620 Ocean Ave in Bohemia after it crashed into the building. (June 5, 2010) Photo Credit: Photo by David Rubin

Two people were hurt when a small airplane crashed into a commercial building yesterday afternoon in Bohemia while the pilot was practicing takeoffs and landings, officials said.

The crash, shortly after 3 p.m. at 1620 Ocean Ave., near Veterans Memorial Highway, injured the flight instructor and the pilot, authorities said. It happened about a half-mile from Runway 24 at Long Island MacArthur Airport, where the pilot, Myron David Rowe of Mount Sinai, was practicing "touch-and-go" landings in which he immediately takes off after his wheels touch the tarmac, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters.

Rowe and flight instructor David Jensen were taken to Stony Brook University Medical Center for treatment.

The aircraft, a single-engine Beechcraft Musketeer owned by Rowe, was destroyed in the crash. Authorities said Rowe was piloting the plane when it crashed.

Jensen, of Mid Island Air Service, is a full-time instructor. He suffered second-degree burns, said his daughter, who did not want to be named.

"He's awake and he wants to go home," she said outside the hospital Saturday night.

This was Jensen's first crash in nearly two decades of flight instruction, she said.

Rowe is in the burn unit at Stony Brook. The hospital did not release his condition.

An emergency worker who was working a few buildings away, Bonnie Minckler, said she "heard a big bang." She ran up the block and saw the plane and "flames coming out of it. My next concern was, was it going to blow for the civilians" in the area.

She had an ambulance block off civilians. "There was the pilot under the tree," she said, "so I treated his injuries as best I could. He was in pretty bad shape," with burns on his arms and legs. "He was scared. 'Oh my god' came out quite, quite a lot."

Minckler said she gave him oxygen. He looked like he was on the verge of going into shock, she said.

Mike Crivelli, a parts manager at a Dunrite pool store two buildings down from the crash, said he was working when he heard an unusual noise followed by a big boom.

There was "a big crashing sound and I saw smoke," he said. "A lot of smoke and flames. Thirty seconds later it [the plane] was fully engulfed" in flames.

Michael Ruggiero, who owns a nearby furniture factory, said the plane was "completely disintegrated. There's nothing left."

He said the single-story manufacturing building hit by the plane appeared to have suffered "mostly broken windows."

The Community Ambulance Company said it took both the instructor and the pilot to Stony Brook with burn injuries. One was taken by ambulance, the other by medevac helicopter.

A third person, who attempted to assist the plane occupants, was taken by the ambulance company to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center with shortness of breath and was in stable condition.

The crash, about two blocks south of Veterans Memorial Highway, happened in a primarily industrial area. A pile of charred debris lay in front of two businesses of the building. Part of the building was scorched and charred from the crash.

In December 2003, a single-engine plane that took off from MacArthur grazed a house in Holbrook and landed in a backyard. The pilot escaped with minor injuries.

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