Recovery effort to resume after crash of small plane in Long Island Sound

Kristin Thorne Image
Monday, February 22, 2016
Recovery effort to resume after crash of small plane in Long Island Sound
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Kristin Thorne is live in the Woodhaven section of Queens with this story

PORT JEFFERSON, Long Island (WABC) -- Recovery efforts resumed Monday as police look for a Queens man missing after a small plane went down in Long Island Sound Saturday night with four people on board.

The Coast Guard called off the search for 23-year-old Gerson Salmon-Negron Sunday.

On his Facebook page, 23-year-old Gerson Salmon-Negron says he works as a courier for FedEx and that he recently graduated from the City University of New York studying Business Administration.

The search for the Elmhurst resident is now a recovery mission in the waters of the Long Island Sound around Port Jefferson and Setauket Harbor.

That's where a small plane carrying him and three other passengers went down around 11 p.m. Saturday. The plane's engine lost power.

The single-engine aircraft was raised from Setauket Inlet Sunday.

Suffolk County Police officers on the scene heard cries for help from the water. They didn't have time to ask for permission. They grabbed what kayaks they found from neighbors' homes, and rowed out to the exhausted and freezing victims.

"Officers arrived to the scene, made their way down to the shoreline, commandeered kayaks from local residents and went into the water to rescue these victims," said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini.

A student pilot, Austricio Ramirez, was flying at the time the plane began experiencing difficulties and turned the controls over to the instructor pilot, Nelson Gomez, according to police.

Gomez landed the plane in Setauket Harbor and all four occupants were able to exit the plane into the water. Three men, Ramirez, Gomez, and Wady Perez, were rescued by Suffolk County Police officers. The fourth, Salmon-Negron, remains missing.

Arlene Salac, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said early Sunday that the pilot reported engine trouble and made the "forced landing."

She said the FAA is investigating and the National Transportation Safety Board will determine the probable cause.

Ramirez, 25, from the Bronx, Gomez, 36, from Queens, and Perez, 25, from Queens, were all transported to Stony Brook University Hospital. Ramirez and Gomez have been released from the hospital.

Salmon-Negron's family was too emotional to speak with Eyewitness News on camera, but told us they just want him to be found one way or another.

Emmanuel Bobadilla is the brother of one of the surviving passengers, Wady Perez.

Perez was still in the hospital Monday.

"They found a small blood clot in his head and they said it's not life threatening. He's going to be able to recuperate. He's doing OK. He's a little shocked, but he's going to be able to recuperate," Bobadilla said.

Suffolk County Police are now calling this a "recovery effort" and not a rescue.