Monday, April 18, 2016

Cessna 172C Skyhawk, N1863Y: Fatal accident occurred April 18, 2016 in Westmoreland, Oneida County, New York


NTSB Identification: ERA16FA161
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, April 18, 2016 in Westmoreland, NY
Aircraft: CESSNA 172, registration: N1863Y
Injuries: 2 Fatal, 1 Minor.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On April 18, 2016, about 1910 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172C, N1863Y, collided with trees and terrain during takeoff from Sophie's Choice airstrip, Westmoreland, New York. The private pilot and one passenger were fatally injured, while one passenger sustained minor injuries. The airplane was destroyed by a postcrash fire. The airplane was registered to a private individual, and operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed. The flight was originating at the time of the occurrence, and was destined for Griffiss International Airport (RME), Rome New York.

Witnesses reported the pilot initiated takeoff to the east from the downsloping grass runway with about 1,130 feet of runway available. The flight became airborne when past the windsock located near the departure end of the runway and continued to the east. While flying past the departure end of the runway, a pilot-rated witness reported seeing the airplane bank to the right, then left and described it as "hanging on the propeller." While in a right bank, the left wing collided with a tree about 30 feet above ground level and the right wing collided with the ground. The airplane came to rest upright about 40 feet past the tree contact location, and a postcrash fire started shortly after the airplane came to rest.

A small plane crash in Westmoreland one week ago has claimed the life of a second victim.

The pilot, 37-year-old John Balio of Frankfort, passed away yesterday afternoon at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Balio was at the controls of the aircraft that failed to reach altitude last Monday as it took off from a field near Lowell road in Westmoreland. However it is been learned, by eyewitness accounts and police investigation that Balio's efforts both in flight and after the crash were nothing short of heroic.

Oneida County Undersheriff Rob Swenszkowski adds,
"Not only was Mr. Balio able to actually bring the plane down without, what we understand to believe serious injuries. But he was able to get Ms. Odell out of the plane, and then it was apparent Mr. Kasperski was having some difficulty getting out of the plane. And Mr. Balio, in what we see as a very valiant and heroic effort, tried to assist Mr. Kasperski. And at that time being covered with fuel from the wings that was leaking out of the plane, and had somehow ignited. Whether the muffler had ignited, we're not so sure at this point.

Swenszkowski adds while tragic, the actions by both first responders and community members was instrumental in avoiding further damage.

"It's very unfortunate of the incident, in and out of itself. But, we're fortunate to have at least one survivor. And hopefully the families can move on with this with the memories of their loved ones."

Story and video:

John Balio, a 37-year-old pilot of a plane that crashed in Oneida County on April 18, has died from his injuries, his family and sheriff's deputies said Monday.

Balio - who suffered fourth-degree burns all over his body and had been transferred to a hospital in Boston - died Sunday afternoon, his family said. The small plane crashed on take-off near Creaser Road in Westmoreland.

Oneida County sheriff's deputies said Balio "in a heroic effort" attempted to free passenger James Kaperski, 76, from the plane. Kaperski later died of his injuries.

Police said witnesses said Balio and a passenger Amanda Udell, 31, were able to exit the plane through the door. That's when fuel leaking from the plane ignited, burning both Balio and Kaperski, deputies said.

"He was a hero,'' said Cosmo Balio, 42, John's older brother.

Cosmo Balio said he talked to the homeowner whose property the plane landed on, and she told him she's grateful he was able to avoid her house when the plane went down.

Udell, the pilot's girlfriend, was able to escape the crash with minor injuries but is terribly broken up over Balio's death, Cosmo Balio said.

John Balio, of West Frankfort in Herkimer County, took up flying about five years ago, his brother said. He would fly to his sales appointments in Rochester and all over the state, and also flew to his nieces' soccer tournaments in Virginia.

"He was passionate about flying,'' Cosmo Balio said. "He just loved it. He loved being able to go anywhere. I let my two daughters fly with him, and I never had any concerns about it. He was very skilled."

Cosmo Balio said he doesn't know what happened to cause the crash that day.

He does know that John Balio, his girlfriend and a friend, Kaperski, were flying that day with two other small planes. They flew to Old Forge that day, and then touched down at the private runway off Lowell and Creaser roads in Westmoreland, he said.

John Balio would send his brother funny YouTube videos, and sometimes he'd dress up as Will Ferrell and dance around.

"He was someone who cared about everyone else before himself, " he said.

John Balio also is survived by a younger brother and his parents.

A GoFundMe page set up when Balio was first hospitalized has raised more than $53,000 to cover hospital expenses.

"The response has brought us to our knees as a family,'' Cosmo Balio said. "It shows how loved he was by everyone."

Cosmo said the family will use the money raised for a college fund for John Balio's daughter, Morgan.

WESTMORELAND (WSYR-TV) -- 76-year-old James Kasperski, a passenger in the small plane that crashed in Westmoreland on Monday night, has died from his injuries, according to the Oneida County Sheriff's Office.

37-year-old John Bailo, the plane's pilot, remains in critical condition at Upstate University Hospital.

Another passenger, 31-year-old Amy Odell of Rome, was treated for her injuries and released.

According to Sheriff Robert Maciol, the small plane crashed after take-off from a grass airstrip located on Lowell Rd.

Maciol did not say where the people were traveling from.

Officials say neighbors called 911 and helped the victims out of the plane.

"We were having a practice over at the elementary school and there were three or four planes flying over head really low. Then all of a sudden, one of them was gone. We saw this big smoke cloud go up and one of the other coaches who's a fireman with Westmoreland got called away and he said there's a plane crash," said Randy Walker, who witnessed the incident.

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UPDATE:The names of the victim's in last night's Westmoreland plane crash have been revealed as 31-year-old Amanda Odell of Rome, 37-year-old John Bailo of Frankfort, who was piloting the plane. and 76-year-old James Kasperski.

Oneida County Undersheriff's revealed that Odell was released from the hospital while Bailo and Kasperski are still at Upstate University Hospital in critical condition.

WESTMORELAND, N.Y. --- Surrounded by the hills and streams in Westmoreland, Don Marino was inside his home when he heard a plane taking off from a nearby landing strip- seconds later he saw the plane go down.

"It was literally within 7 or 8 secs from the time he lifted until it went down." said Marino.

Grabbing the phone to call 9-1-1, Don started running toward the crash site. He was about half way there when he saw the plane go up in flames.

"They already started climbing out of the plane. There were two of them on the ground when I got there. The one I attended to was actually on fire. What was left of his clothing was still burning. And he was trying to roll. And, he was rolling in dry grass, which was catching on fire." said Marino.

About ten feet away there happened to be a small creek near the wreckage. Don used the water to his advantage. He was able to bring one of the passengers into the creek to stop the fire from spreading.

"It was a pretty tough scene to deal with. But, I was kinda of glad I was here and I was kinda glad I was able to help." he said

As FAA and NTSB investigators search to find out what caused the plane to go down, Oneida County Sheriffs Department says all three people were lucky.

"The only better outcome would have been that there were no injuries but they were very fortunate that it happened in the manner it did and in the area that it did." said Robert Swenszkowski, an Oneida County Undersheriff.

Both the sheriffs dept and the neighbors said, if the plane had to crash this way, this was the best way because there were people here to help and the water right there.

Story and video:

WESTMORELAND -- Three people were injured Monday after a small plane crashed and burned behind a barn in a backyard on Lowell Road in Westmoreland, said Oneida County Undersheriff Robert Swenszkowski.

Neighbors saw the plane crash shortly after it took off from a small airstrip around 7 p.m. a couple of hundred feet away from the crash site by Lowell Road and called 911 early Monday evening, he said.

The homeowners where the plane crashed ran out to assist the victims, helping them out of the plane, Swenszkowski said. He added that he believes the neighbors helped to put out flames on one of the occupants.

The crash happened near the intersection with Creaser Road.

The plane’s occupants suffered burns and other injuries, and were taken by ambulance to area hospitals; two were expected to be transferred to Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, he said.

Swenszkowski declined to release any information on the identity of the plane’s occupants.

The scene has been secured pending the arrival of the Federal Aviation Administration, which will investigate the accident, he said.

Deputies were assisted at the scene by state police, Westmoreland Volunteer Fire Department, and COCVAC Ambulance.

As of 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office is waiting for the FAA and NTSB to respond to the scene.

Story and video:

WESTMORELAND, NY- Three people were rushed to area hospitals following a plane crash in Westmoreland Monday evening.

The crash happened shortly after 7pm near Lowell and Creaser Roads in Westmoreland.

Officials confirm two of the victims were badly injured with burns.  A witness tells NEWSChannel 2's Don Shipman one of the victims is a 76 year-old man and has burns on nearly 90% of his body.  The pilot, according to a witness, was also badly burned.

The second passenger, according to a witness, was not visibly hurt.

The Westmoreland Fire Department, New York State Police and Oneida County Sheriff's Department were called to the scene.

The investigation will be turned over the FAA.  So far, local officials say they don't know what caused the plane to crash.

"It appears the plane touched down at a local air strip down the road took back off and then crashed behind us here," Undersheriff Robert Swenszkowski, Oneida County Sheriff's Dept.  "There were three occupants. They all suffered burns and other injuries. They've all been sent to local hospitals for treatment. All three have survived the crash."

- Story and video:

WESTMORELAND — Three people were hospitalized after witnesses said they walked away from a plane crash near the intersection of Lowell and Creaser roads Monday evening. 

The small plane came down just behind a farm on Lowell Road shortly after 7 p.m. Law enforcement officials said the three suffered burns and other injuries and were taken to local hospitals. 

Officials said the plane had just taken off from a small airstrip across the road from the farm.

"It was a crash," said Undersheriff Robert S. Swenszkowski. Authorities do not yet know what caused the plane to lose altitude so quickly. The plane managed to avoid a nearby barn before crashing into a field.

The plane was totaled, but witnesses said all three occupants managed to free themselves.

"All three have survived the crash," Swenszkowski said at the scene. "They suffered some burns and other injuries."

Witnesses said there was thick black smoke coming from the debris, and a little flame. All three occupants were out of the plane by the time nearby residents reached the crash site.

Rescue personnel from Westmoreland and other agencies were dispatched. The three were taken to nearby hospitals.

Swenszkowski said the Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the crash.

Original article can be found here: 

ONEIDA COUNTY, N.Y. --- There are report from WKTV of a plane crash that occurred shortly after 7 p.m. Monday night.

According to WKTV the crash happened near Lowell and Creaser Roads in Westmoreland, which has reportedly left 2 people seriously injured.

A helicopter and two ambulances were sent to transport those affected to nearby hospitals.

UPDATE: Notable portions of call audio.

10:22 "AIRCRAFT accident area of Lowell road and greaser road, a possible airplane crash Westmoreland."

10:37 (tones go out) "Fire control to oneida county ambulance Westmoreland aircraft accident Lowell road greaser road. Oneida county ambulance Westmoreland Air craft accident Lowell road and greaser road."

11:05 "Per the caller Cessna plane on fire Lowell road and greaser"

11:55 "Two subjects on the aircraft with severe burns (per caller)"

12:40 "Two patients with severe burns, helicopter notified, the plane is on fire."

Original article can be found here:

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