Crash investigation continues, workers examine wreck for clues

Crash investigation continues, workers examine wreck for clues

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK – Investigators and workers in hard hats gathered up the scorched pieces of New York Yankee Cory Lidle’s shattered plane at a luxury high-rise Thursday in a floor-by-floor sweep for clues to why the aircraft crashed.

The pitcher and his flight instructor were killed when their plane slammed into the 40-story condominium tower Wednesday.

National Transportation Safety Board member Debbie Hersman said crews started their search at the top of the building and worked down, looking also on terraces and ledges for any aircraft parts. They found a damaged, burned memory chip on a third-floor terrace and a hand-held GPS system.

Men in hard hats also lifted pieces of wreckage from the street and placed them neatly on a silver-colored tarp in the bed of a pickup truck. Neighborhood children gathered to gawk at the jagged and twisted metal, glass shards, and charred wing and door.

Hersman said the single-engine plane tried to turn left to go south down the East River at 700 feet, and was last seen on radar about a quarter-mile north of the building, in the middle of a turn, at 500 feet.

“Early examination indicates that the propellers were turning” at the time of impact, she said. That suggests the engine was still running.

Residents began returning to their battered and scarred apartments, one day after the crash engulfed apartments in flames and sent fiery wreckage raining down on the street and sidewalk. One witness said he saw the charred body of one of the victims in the street.

“It was in a fetal position, strapped into a seat. I could see a white leg sticking up. It was awful,” said maintenance worker Juan Rosario, adding that other plane wreckage, including a door and wheels, was strewn near the body.

The medical examiner’s office removed the bodies Wednesday, but pieces of fuselage, a plane door and crushed vehicles still littered the street. Officials said aircraft parts and headsets were on the ground, and investigators discovered the pilot’s log book in the wreckage.

More details also emerged Thursday about the flight instructor who was with Lidle aboard the four-seat Cirrus SR20 during the sightseeing flight around Manhattan. Tyler Stanger, 26, operated a flight school in La Verne, Calif.

He and Lidle apparently planned on flying from New York to California this week, after the Yankees’ defeat in the playoffs over the weekend.

“They were going to fly back together. It was right after the loss to Detroit,” said Dave Conriguez, who works at the airport coffee shop in California that Stanger frequented. “Tyler’s such a great flight instructor that I never gave it a second thought. It was just, ‘See you in a week.'”

The crash prompted calls for the government to restrict the airspac