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NTSB says initial plane crash investigation could wrap up quickly

Mark Scott

Two planes collided in mid-air Saturday morning. Two passengers who were on one of the planes are dead. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board say there are a lot of other things that are still unknown and might not be known for more than a year.

The crashed Cessna 172 is currently being examined at the Lancaster Police have a in the department. The pilot, 78-year-old Anthony Mercurio and 14-year-old James Metz were on board when the plane was involved in the mid-air collision.

The Cessna collided with another plane flown by Kevin D'Angelo called the Searay. D'Angelo's plane came down in nearby trees. His 9-year-old passenger hasn't been identified.

NTSB Senior Air Safety Investigator Brian Rayner says he may be finished with his preliminary probe Monday with an accident report out this week. Rayner says D'Angelo and his passenger were very lucky.

"The vegetation such that it was very soft and pliable, really. So, it was definitely capable of attenuating G-forces. The airplane while significantly damaged was relatively intact," said Rayner.

Rayner says D'Angelo did a good job of building the Searay by installing a four-point safety harnesses, which really helped the pilot and passenger.

"In the Searay, the pilot was able to report to me his experiences with his airplane. He said “it was performing fine until he felt a bump and he wasn't sure what had occurred.” I think he relayed to the police that he thought that he had flown through a flock of birds," said Rayner.

Rayner says a final report from the NTSB is at least a year away.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.