Friday, Mar 31st

Hundreds of Emergency Workers Search for Five Hours to Locate Downed Plane Near Westchester County Airport

LatimerCounty Executive George Latimer discussed the search effort for the downed plane.County Executive George Latimer held a press conference at 10 am on Friday morning January 20, 2023 to report on a plane crash and rescue operation that occurred in stormy weather on Thursday night January 19, 2023 near Westchester County Airport.

According to Latimer, hundreds of EMS workers and firefighters as well as the FBI were called in to search for the small two person plane that crashed in Louden Woods near King Street in Armonk at 5:30 pm on Thursday night. Workers searched for the plane during a treacherous storm in thunder, lightning and heavy rain and did not find the plane until 10:30 pm that night. It was located by finding the signals from the cell phones of the two lost in the accident

The single engine Beechcraft A36 plane was enroute from JFK to Cuyahoga County airport, south of Cleveland when it lost pressure and crashed in to the woods near Rye Lake about a mile and half from the Westchester County airport runway.

The two occupants of the plane were identified as the pilot Boruch Taub and Benjamin Chafetz. Both were members of the orthodox religious community in Cleveland. According to the Cleveland Jewish News, Taub was the proprietor of MasterWorks Automotive & Transmission, and Chafetz was the owner of 121eCommerce LLC in Cleveland Heights.

According the Jewish Chronicle, “Moments before the crash, Mr Chafetz sent a text to a friends’ WhatsApp group that said their plane had “lost engines” and asked his community to pray for him. The message read: “I love you and the kids, “I am sorry for everything I have done. We lost engines. Call and have community say Tehillim.” Tehillim is the Hebrew term for the Book of Psalms.” Chafetz leaves behind a wife and seven children.

Just prior to the crash the pilot was communicating with a series of control towers and said he had low engine pressure at 5:20 pm. The plane lost altitude too quickly to clear the lake and land on the runway.

The search for the plane was on water, land, and in the air, but ultimately a cybersearch located the plane. The FBI brought in special equipment to ping the phones. Once the coordinates were given, rescuers located the wreckage of the plane. It was found five and half hours later at the location of the last blip received by the FAA. The victims were on the ground, deceased.

TaubChafetzPilot Boruch Taub and passenger Benjamin Chafetz died in a small plane crash near Westchester County Airport on Thursday evening January 19, 2023.

The medical examiner released their remains for burial in Ohio by sundown on Friday, as is the Jewish tradition.

Westchester County Commissioner of Emergency Services Richard Wishnie said the weather was “impossible,” and that even after they pinged the phones of the occupants, they were not sure whether the plane was in the water (Rye Lake) or on land. He thanked members of the Armonk, Portchester, Purchase and West Harrison fire departments along with EMS agencies from Armonk, Harrison, Portchester and Rye-Rye Brook.

The area will be sealed off for the next several days for an investigation and removal of the wreckage.

Latimer asked for prayers for the two lives that were lost, saying “it could have been us.”

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