LAKE CLEAR, N.Y. (AP) — The four people killed in a fiery crash after a small plane went down in the Adirondack Mountains were longtime friends who were attending a lacrosse tournament in Lake Placid, police and family members said Sunday.
Raymond Shortino and his wife Sharon were aboard the plane with their longtime friends Harvey and Sharon Stoler when the Piper PA-46 aircraft crashed Friday night, just minutes after taking off from Adirondack Regional Airport.
Authorities still don't know what caused the plane to plummet to the ground, killing the two couples in the wreckage.
A spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board told The Associated Press on Saturday that the last radio transmission from the pilot — which was one of the men killed — reported he was taking off from the airport around 5:50 p.m. Just minutes later, the plane went down in a wooded area northwest of the airport. The lakeside hamlet of tourist lodges, campsites and outdoors-oriented establishments is about 50 miles south of the Canadian border.
Family members told the Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester that the two couples, who were both from the Rochester area, had flown to the Adirondacks to watch their adults sons play in the Lake Placid Summit Lacrosse Classic.
"There has been a tremendous outpouring of love from many communities, and it has brought us great comfort in our loss," the families said in a joint statement to the newspaper. "Our parents were traveling together to be with their families to enjoy the game that brought them together over 35 years ago. They were longstanding friends and well respected within our community."
Franklin County Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill said the plane "came down in a fairly vertical position," rather than gliding. He said there was not much left of the plane at the crash site, which is about half a mile or more into the woods.
The plane had flown in earlier Friday from Rochester and remained at the small airport in Lake Clear for the day, NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson said. The pilot had filed a flight plan with the Federal Aviation Administration and was returning to Rochester when he crashed, he said.
An FAA spokesman did not immediately respond to a request Sunday for details about the plane's registration.
The crash happened a little over a year after another small plane crashed while approaching the airport in nearby Lake Placid, killing the pilot and his two passengers, who were his graduate student daughter and a friend of hers.
In March 2013, another small plane went down while approaching the Lake Placid Municipal Airport, but all three men aboard escaped with only minor cuts and bruises.