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Jun 12, 2018 4:43 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Search Continues For Last Victim Of Krupinski Plane Crash

Patrol boats off Atlantic Avenue Beach on Friday.    KYRIL BROMLEY
Jun 12, 2018 5:08 PM

East Hampton Town Police and Marine Patrol boats and scuba divers continue to scour the ocean off Atlantic Avenue Beach in Amagansett this week in hopes of locating the fourth and final victim of last week’s fatal plane crash.

Most of the wreckage of the plane itself, a twin-propeller Piper Navajo, has been recovered and removed to a secure location, but Town Police dive teams have continued to search the periphery of the debris field for the last of four victims whose body has not yet been recovered.

“We have put a tremendous amount of man hours and resources into this recovery effort, and we remain hopeful we will be able to recover the final missing victim, as we fully understand the importance to the family for closure with this terrible tragedy,” East Hampton Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo said on Tuesday.

Town Police have been in charge of the recovery effort since the U.S. Coast Guard, which is a life-saving service, deemed that there could be no survivors and suspended its search about 24 hours after the crash—though Chief Sarlo said the Coast Guard remained instrumental in helping his department ultimately locate the plane’s wreckage.

The crash, which happened on the afternoon of June 2 amid a fast-moving thunderstorm, killed Ben and Bonnie Krupinski—whom one friend called “the most prominent” family in East Hampton—their 22-year old grandson, William Maerov, and the plane’s pilot, Jon Dollard, 47, of Hampton Bays.

The bodies of Mr. and Ms. Krupinski, both 70, were recovered from the ocean the day of the crash and brought ashore by members of the East Hampton Town Lifeguards and East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue, which had been conducting training near the site at the time of the crash. Funeral services were held last week.

On Friday afternoon, Town Police divers, led by Lieutenant Peter Powers, were able to locate the body of a third victim of the crash among the wreckage and bring it to the surface. The identity of the victim recovered on Friday still has not been released by the Suffolk County medical examiner’s office.

Three days of high winds and rough seas that followed the crash made it impossible for divers and side-scan sonars towed behind boats to be used to search for the plane wreckage in the early days of last week, leaving police and Marine Patrol, as well as Southampton Town Bay Constables, only able to patrol ocean beaches in search of crash debris washing ashore.

While the search boats were kept at the dock, police worked with the Coast Guard and Federal Aviation Administration to pore over data about the plane’s flight path and information from boats that were on the scene the day of the crash to narrow down the search area to the waters off Atlantic Avenue Beach.

When searchers returned to the water on Wednesday and Thursday, the Marine Patrol boats—coordinated by Chief Harbormaster Ed Michels, a former Coast Guard officer—began following a strict grid pattern, canvassing the ocean floor with sideways-scanning sonar.

“With no eyewitnesses and the initial flight data not providing a definitive coordinate, our search field was very large,” Chief Sarlo said. “[But it] became more focused as [the] FAA was able to provide more data and the Coast Guard was able to make calculations based on tidal sweep. This led us to the area off Atlantic Avenue and, ultimately, [to] locating the crash site Thursday.”

The hulk of the crashed plane was located on Thursday afternoon, just as mourners were starting to file into the wake for Mr. and Ms. Krupinski and Mr. Maerov in East Hampton.

On Friday afternoon, after the Krupinskis were buried in East Hampton, friends and family of Mr. Maerov gathered at Atlantic Avenue Beach to watch the search crews working just offshore. The Krupinskis’ private fishing boat was seen assisting in the search for the last body on Tuesday.

The wreckage of the plane, which was hoisted off the bottom by marine salvage crews hired by the plane’s insurer, was taken to “a secure location,” according to Chief Sarlo. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are conducting an investigation of what caused the crash and are expected to release a preliminary report soon, though a final report could take a year or longer to complete.

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Thank God another victim has been located. May they all RIP...
By MelissaA (34), Sag Harbor on Jun 8, 18 5:41 PM
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