Pilot, passenger found dead near site of small plane crash in Westchester County identified

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, January 20, 2023
2 found dead near site of small plane crash identified
The pilot and passenger of a small plane that left from JFK Airport Thursday night were found dead near the scene of a plane crash. Marcus Solis has more.

WHITE PLAINS, New York (WABC) -- The wreckage of a small plane that crashed after going missing in Westchester County remained tangled in a heavily wooded area Friday.

The bodies of the two men inside the plane were located nearby.

Officials say the pilot and passenger were members of the Jewish community in Cleveland. They are identified as 45-year-old Benjamin Chafetz and 40-year-old Boruch Taub, both of Cleveland.

Their bodies have been removed from the crash scene and already released to family, so they can be buried in Ohio by sundown Friday, in accordance with Jewish traditions.

Westchester County Police say the aircraft, a single-engine Beechcraft A36, was located late Thursday night in an area surrounded by trees following a local search-and-rescue operation.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer discusses the small plane crash that left two men dead Thursday night.

The plane took off from JFK International Airport shortly after 5 p.m. and headed to the Cuyahoga County Airport, just south of Cleveland.

Shortly after takeoff, the pilot reported a loss of oil pressure while over Long Island Sound. FAA air traffic controllers lost radar and radio contact with the aircraft at 5:30 p.m.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said the plane went down about two miles from Westchester County Airport in Loudon Point Woods, a 162-acre wooded area adjacent to Rye Lake.

An extensive search followed.

Officials said the search effort was complicated by rain and thunderstorms, which prevented the use of drones in trying to locate the wreckage, and by the heavily wooded terrain.

Crews were ultimately able to use pings from the victims' cell phones to locate the downed plane, Latimer said.

The bodies of the pilot and passenger were recovered at 10:55 p.m., more than five hours after the crash.

Chafetz, the passenger, was able to "say goodbye" to his wife before the plane crashed, Latimer said.

Officials say the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating the crash.

FAA investigators arrived Friday morning and the NTSB was expected to be on-site by Friday afternoon.

The crash scene, a 30-minute walk from the nearest road, will be closed to the public for several days for the investigation and removal of the wreckage.

ALSO READ | Alarming issues found in Tri-State's adult guardianship systems

Eyewitness News investigation finds NY, NJ and Connecticut adult guardianship systems have alarming issues. Kristin Thorne has more on the investigation.


* More Northern Suburbs news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.