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Sun, May 22, 2005

Four Lost In Coney Island Plane Crash

Engine Failure Reported By Witnesses

Update 0030: The pilot of the plane was identified as Endrew F. Allen, 34, of Jamaica. He was employed as a flight instructor with Air Fleet Training Systems Inc., with locations in Teterboro and Linden, NJ. He was qualified to instruct in single and multi-engine aircraft, and had logged over 1,800 flight hours.

The aircraft had departed Linden on a "Discovery flight" with three passengers from West Virginia. Police identified the male passenger as Courtney Block, 38, of Benwood. The female passengers were Danielle Block, 18, of Benwood and Joel-Beth Marie Gross, 18, of McMechen.

A sunny afternoon at Coney Island was shattered along with the lives of four on board as a Cessna Skyhawk fell onto the beach at approximately 1330 Saturday. No injuries were reported to the few sunbathers on the beach.

Witnesses reported that the 2001 Cessna 172S (N778LP) was circling above Coney island when the engine stalled.

Herbert Lecler, who was fishing on the beach, told the AP that the pilot tried to right the airplane after 'it went into a tailspin,' but, "He couldn't, and he bounced on that beach."

Joshua McCabe, a registered nurse, was visiting from San Diego. He heard the crash and rushed over to the aircraft. Unfortunately, the pilot was already dead and a female passenger was just barely alive. He told the AP that within seconds, "she wasn't breathing and then she lost her pulse."

The aircraft is registered to to RJ Ventures LLC of Paramus, N.J. None of the victims have been identified to the public. (File Photo)

The aircraft remained on the beach about halfway between the ocean and the boardwalk with police and fire officials at the location. The beach was closed after the crash, but dozens of people watched the scene from the boardwalk.

The plane crashed onto the beach near West 19th Street, near KeySpan Park, a minor league baseball stadium.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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