The Block Island Times

Passenger plane crashes in trees, none injured

By Lily O'Gara | Aug 11, 2014

On Sunday, Aug. 10, at 12:10 p.m., a small passenger plane crashed into the trees at the end of Connecticut Ave. The plane, a fixed-wing Piper PA-28-161, was registered to Danic Electric Corp. in Yonkers, New York, though it was traveling from Long Island. Its three passengers, Frank Palmiotto, 77, Michael Tempesta, 48, and 76-year-old pilot Vincenzo Tempesta all survived the crash with no reported injuries. The Rescue Squad evaluated the passengers, who refused further treatment, at the scene.

Block Island State Airport Manager Mark Helmboldt said the event was an “unfortunate accident” and due to a “bad judgment call.” The plane should have aborted the landing and looped around when it ran out of runway space, he said, and then reattempted to land. In the police report, the pilot said he thought he was going to hit another plane, which was turning around at the end of the runway. According to the report, Vincenzo Tempesta tried to gain altitude, but the engine stalled, causing the plan to crash into the trees beyond the gated airport runway. Parts of the plane are salvageable, as the trees cushioned the vessel upon impact.

“Someone was sitting on the shoulders of those guys in that plane,” Sgt. William Moretti of the New Shoreham Police Department said, adding that the passengers were very lucky. Moretti was the first officer on the scene.

Helmboldt said that Block Island crashes are a rare occurrence, and that the island has not had one in years. Members of the Federal Aviation Administration investigated the incident on Monday morning.

The plane remains in the trees at the end of the dirt road, roped off with yellow tape. Both Helmboldt and Moretti cautioned passerby about getting too close, as the plane has been consistently shifting and is not entirely stable. Moretti said that the airport will be handling removal of the aircraft.

8-13-14 Update: Airport manager Mark Helmboldt said that the owners are responsible for removal of the aircraft. The owners and their insurance company are currently working on a plan to do so.

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