UPDATE: Monday, 4:25 p.m.
East Hampton Town Police have identified the pilot of the plane that crashed shortly after takeoff from East Hampton Airport on Sunday as Steven Bochter. He and his passenger, Kim Brillo, are both from Massachusetts. They were hospitalized with unspecified injuries after the plane crashed in a wooded area across the road from the airport.
In a press release, the police said they responded to the scene at about 5:25 p.m. Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration were called at 8 p.m.
UPDATE: Monday, 10:30 a.m.
A Brooklyn man scaled a fence barefoot, ran through the woods and pulled the female passenger out of the plane before it burst into flames.
Craig Schum, 33, said he was on his way home from working at the Levain Bakery in Wainscott when he stopped at an airport noise protest to chat with protestors.
“And while discussing that, I would say within a minute or two of me stopping, there was just this humongous raucous and explosion in the trees,” a still-shaken Mr. Schum recounted over the phone from work on Monday morning. “The forest basically just, like, blew up right behind us.”
Without even thinking about it, Mr. Schum said he ran toward the explosion. Barefoot, he scaled a fence he estimated was about 12-feet high.
“My only thought that I remember was getting to the top of this fence and thinking ‘I should not jump off this thing,’ and then I jumped, and kept running,” Mr. Schum said.
When he got to the plane, it had already caught fire. The male pilot was stumbling and fell down once, “clearly dazed” but conscious, he recalled. The woman could not move, he said. They were both covered in blood. Mr. Schum carried the woman back to the fence before the plane became engulfed in flames.
“I thought she was dead,” Mr. Schum said through tears. “I thought I was carrying a dead body. And once we got her out under the fence, I was just holding her hand and holding her head and just talking to her and telling her everything was going to be OK, everything was going to be OK.”
Eventually, the woman regained some consciousness and moved her head, he said. Mr. Schum said he was covered in her blood.
Other witnesses confirmed that Mr. Schum ran to the scene of the crash. But Mr. Schum said he finds the attention “uncomfortable” and said that he’s no hero.
“This is an event that’s going to take a really long time for me to process,” he said “All I know is I cry every time I think about it and keep seeing her face and have a hard time focusing.”
UPDATE: 7:45 p.m.
East Hampton Town Police Chief Ed Ecker Jr. said a man and woman from Massachusetts were going to fly home after visiting East Hampton, but the plane “lost power” after it took off from Runway 10, the airport’s main runway.
“And the pilot made a turn to the left, to try to make a landing back at the airport. And he went into the woods, about 100 yards east of Daniels Hole Road,” the chief said.
The pair were “conscious” before being flown to Stony Brook University Hospital for “varying degrees of injury,” said the chief. Chief Ecker said he believes the woman’s injuries were more severe and said she might have sustained a broken arm.
The plane, a single engine Mooney, caught fire when it landed, said the chief. Fire departments from East Hampton, Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton were on the scene, he said.
The man was piloting the plane, he said. They were on their way back home to Taunton, Massachusetts. Police haven’t yet released the names of the couple.
UPDATE: 7:41 p.m.
According to witnesses at the airport, the plane was a single-engine aircraft that experienced unknown difficulties just after taking off. The pilot attempted to turn around and land the plane but crashed into a wooded area across from the airport near Daniels Hole Road.
The witnesses said the male pilot was able to exit the aircraft and then help his female passenger exit the plane before rescue workers arrived.
Officials could not say what type of airplane it was. Mr. Brundige was not at the airport and said he wasn’t certain.
The airport remained open to traffic.
A small plane crashed and caught fire shortly after taking off at the East Hampton Airport on Sunday evening.
Airport Manager Jim Brundige said two people were on board, but there were no fatalities. Both were being flown to Stony Brook University Hospital.
Supervisor Bill Wilkinson was on the scene.