Authorities investigating the crash of a volunteer medical flight returned to the site Sunday to scour the woods and a nearby pond for a passenger, who remains missing days after the bodies of his wife and the pilot were found.
The Fulton County Sheriff’s Department said the bodies of the female passenger and the pilot have been found, but crews are still searching for the male passenger. The twin-engine aircraft went down Friday night with three people aboard in Ephratah, a small town about an hour west of Albany.
An Albany attorney who is a volunteer pilot for Angel Flight, a nonprofit group that arranges free air transportation for the sick, had flown the couple to Boston on Friday morning in Thuillez’s plane. Terence Kindlon said the husband was being treated for glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer.
“We were both former Marines and had been in Vietnam pretty close together in time,” Kindlon said. “We hit it right off. He was a nice guy.”
National Transportation Safety Board investigators who returned to the crash site Sunday aim to retrieve the bulk of the wreckage from the water over the next few days, said agency spokesman Eric Weiss. They are looking for smartphones, GPS devices, computer tablets or other items that could “give the investigators some electronic evidence of what happened in the last minutes of flight,” he said.
Wreckage from the crash was dispersed over a large area, with pieces of the plane found as far as 5 miles away.
Plans called for rescue workers to canvass the woods and divers to use sonar to search a big, murky pond where the bulk of the aircraft was submerged. Town Supervisor Todd Bradt has said divers had trouble seeing in the water because it’s so muddy, but a piece of the plane was removed earlier.
Witnesses described the destruction that started in the air above Ephratah, a sleepy town of about 700 people.
Joan Dudley, owner of Granny’s Ice Cream Shanty, which is less than a mile from the crash site, said she and her employees saw the plane flip, then fall apart Friday night. They called 911 as they parked their car and ran to the crash site in the rain to see if they could rescue anyone.
“Airplane parts were all over the place,” she said. “They were picking them up all over.”