Westfield Men Unharmed Following Plane Crash Near Lake Placid

FAA says plane left Bedminster, NJ and was headed for Lake Placid airport.

This story was updated at 1:44 p.m. to include a statement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office:

Three men from the Westfield area are unhurt after their small plane crashed in the Adirondack Mountains, according to a report by NJ.com.

Jeff O’Connor, 58, of Garwood, formerly of Westfield, Michael Oster, 54, and Frank Dombroski, 51, both of Westfield, were brought to safety early Friday morning, according to a report by Press Republican.

New York State Police said the crash occurred close to 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Forest rangers arrived at the crash site at 2 a.m. Friday and were able to evacuate the men, who had spent hours in frigid conditions awaiting rescue.

Initially, forest rangers headed to Nye Mountain based on information provided by the men. But by 11 p.m., rangers realized they were in the wrong area and found the actual crash site was at Big Burn Mountain, according to the report. Emergency officials said the men used a cell phone to call 911.

The Vans RV-10 experimental aircraft in which the men were traveling left from Bedminster's Somerset Airport bound for Lake Placid Airport, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The plane is registered to Dombroski, according to the FAA. The investigation is ongoing.

The following is a statement released Friday afternoon from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office:

The actions last night of Department of Environmental Conservation Forest
Rangers, State Police, and local emergency personnel demonstrated the
unwavering dedication and tireless commitment of our state's first responders to protecting New Yorkers and those who visit our state. Responding to a small plane crash near Lake Placid, a team of DEC Forest Rangers walked miles in the bitter cold and dark through rough terrain to find and safely rescue three individuals who were in the aircraft.

I commend the DEC Rangers who conducted this rescue, Lt. Charles Platt, Joe LaPierre, Scott VanLaer, Jim Giglinto, Kevin Burns, David Russell, Pete Evans, and Chris Kostoss, as well as the members of the State Police and local emergency response personnel who helped with this rescue.

No matter the weather conditions or the time of day, our state's first responders step up to the call of duty and do what is necessary to find and rescue people that are lost or injured. These first responders went above and beyond to save lives and on behalf of all New Yorkers I thank them for their bravery and service.

Information on the rescue is below:

At 6:32 p.m. DEC Dispatch in Ray Brook was contacted by State Police seeking Forest Ranger response to a plane crash in a wooded area near the Lake Placid Airport. Temperatures were forecasted to drop into the single digits with snow showers throughout the night.

Essex County 911 was in contact with the three male occupants of the airplane all of Westfield, NJ who indicated they were in good condition. They provided coordinates of the crash site which were relayed to DEC Dispatch. When the coordinates were plotted on a map the site of the plane crash was near the summit of Nye Mountain, a trail-less High Peak just west of the Adirondack Loj.

Two DEC Forest Rangers initially responded to the Mount Jo Trailhead on the
Adirondack Loj road and headed to the crash site on snowshoes and carrying
cold weather gear for the crash victims. A second team of four Forest Rangers started approximately a short while later carrying equipment for evacuating the three men.

A helicopter from the State Police Aviation Unit was also dispatched from the Lake Clear Airport but at 7:35 pm advised that they were unable to reach the crash site due to weather and darkness.

A Forest Ranger was in direct phone contact with the men at the crash site. They reported they had erected a tarp as a temporary shelter and put on extra clothing in attempt to stay warm.

At 10:50 pm Forest Rangers concluded that Nye Mountain location was not the
correct location. At about this same time the first two Forest Rangers had hiked three miles to the crash site and confirmed there was no airplane present. It was determined through discussions with others that the original coordinates were provided in untypical format. Plotting the coordinates in the other format it was determined that the crash site was actually just west of Lake Placid near Big Burn Mountain.

The second group of forest rangers was redirected from Nye Mountain to Big Burn Mountain and where they were joined by a another ranger. The Forest Rangers were able to reach the crash site by snowmobile via the Jack Rabbit Trail and bushwhacking on snowshoes the last half mile. The crash site was one mile from the road. The three men were located by the Forest Rangers at 1:55 am. The men were evacuated by snowmobile to the Whiteface Inn Road Trailhead where they were evaluated by the Lake Placid Rescue Squad. It was determined the men were fine and they declined any further medical treatment or transport.

State Police are providing site security pending investigation by the FAA.

FAA February 23, 2013 at 05:39 PM
The pilot should reimburse the state of New York for the cost of the rescue effort. Any seasoned pilot should have know that conditions at that altitude were dangerous once below the clouds and freezing temps. I seriously doubt this home made plane had de-icing equipment. A full investigation by the NTSB will reveal the cause. Just because they survived does not negate pilot error. My schooling has nothing to do with common sense Wilson.
mrsp February 23, 2013 at 09:56 PM
"FAA" If this were a century ago you do realize you would be saying the exact same thing about the Wright Bros., right?
FAA February 23, 2013 at 10:09 PM
The Wright brothers flew an experimental plane on a beach approximately 30 ft off the ground. No comparison but good try.
klubkleb February 24, 2013 at 02:21 AM
Agreed. Knuckleheadedry and acting stupid should not be rewarded or celebrated.
carol archambault February 25, 2013 at 09:50 PM
You are uneducated, uniformed and unfamiliar with the people or this situation to make such a statement. shhhhhhhhhh


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