Yankee Cory Lidle on NYC plane; 4 killed

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Wed October 11 2006, 02:19 PM
Yankee Cory Lidle on NYC plane; 4 killed
Yankee Cory Lidle on NYC plane; 4 killed By COLLEEN LONG, Associated Press Writer
2 minutes ago

NEW YORK - A single-engine plane crashed into an Upper East Side high-rise Wednesday, killing four people, raining debris on the sidewalks below and rattling New Yorkers' nerves exactly one month after the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

There was no immediate confirmation Lidle was among the dead.

The four deaths were confirmed by Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office. There was no word yet on injuries linked to the crash on an overcast October afternoon, which sent thick black smoke soaring above the city skyline and flames shooting out of apartments above the tony neighborhood.

A law enforcement official in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity, said New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle was on the plane. And Federal Aviation Administration records showed the plane was registered to the athlete.

On Sunday, the day after the Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs, Lidle cleaned out his locker at Yankee Stadium and talked about his interest in flying. He explained to reporters the process of getting a pilot's license, and said he intended to fly back to California in several days and planned to make a few stops.

Large crowds gathered at the crash scene, with many people in tears and others trying to reach loved ones by cell phone. Rain started pouring at the scene at around 4 p.m., and people gazed up at the smoke and fire as they covered their heads with plastic bags. Mayor Michael Bloomberg went to the site, where parts of the plane fell to the ground.

"I just saw something come across the sky and crash into that building," said Young May Cha, 23, a Cornell University medical student who was walking along 72nd Street. "There was fire, debris ... The explosion was very small."

Christine Monaco, a New York spokeswoman for the FBI, said there was no indication of terrorism.

Cha said it appeared the plane was "flying erractically" before it slammed into The Belaire Condo, where apartments sell for more than $1 million. Residents of the condo and the building next door were evacuated as thick black smoke wafted above the city skyline, and flames shot from the apartments where the plane crashed.

"I was worried the building would explode, so I got out of there fast," said Lori Claymont, who fled the adjoining building in sweat pants.

The aircraft struck the 40th floor of the building on East 72nd Street, igniting a four-alarm fire in the building.

The small private aircraft, with four seats, took off from New Jersey's Teterboro Airport around 2:30 p.m. A federal aviation official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing, said the plane was a Cirrus SR20 "” an aircraft equipped with a parachute designed to let it float to earth in case of a mishap.

The plane had flown around the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, then headed up the East River corridor before it slammed in the building, authorities said.

"It's a mob scene with police and helicopters circling," said Sandy Teller, watching from his apartment a block away. "There's a dozen ambulances and lots of firefighters waiting on 72nd, on the corner. There's lots of stretchers ready, gurneys."

Fighter planes were scrambled over an several cities across the country in the aftermath of the crash, despite the quick assurances that it was nothing more than an accident. "We see this as a prudent measure at this time," said Sgt. Claudette Hutchinson, a spokeswoman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The crash struck fear in a city devastated by the attacks of Sept. 11 five years ago. Witnesses said sirens echoed across the east side of Manhattan as emergency workers rushed to the scene. The crash triggered a loud bang. Broken glass and debris was strewn around the neighborhood.

Richard Drutman, a professional photographer who lives on the building's 11th floor, said he was speaking on the telephone when he felt the building shake.

"There was a huge explosion. I looked out my window, and saw what appeared to be pieces of wings, on fire, falling from the sky," said Drutman, who quickly exited the building with his girlfriend.

Mystery writer Carol Higgins Clark, daughter of author Mary Higgins Clark, lives on the 38th floor of the struck building and was coming home in a cab when she saw the smoke. She hasn't been able to get into her apartment.

"Thank goodness I wasn't at my apartment writing at the time," she said. She described the building's residents as a mix of actors, doctors, laywers and writers, and people with second homes.

The address of the building is 524 E. 72nd Street "” a 50-story condominium tower built in the late 1980s and located near Sotheby's auction house. The Belaire Condo, developed by William Zeckendorf Jr., has 183 apartments. The building is part of a

Several lower floors of the building are occupied by doctors and administrative offices, as well as guest facilities for family members of patients at the Hospital for Special Surgery, hospital spokeswoman Phyllis Fisher said. No patients were in the high-rise building and operations at the hospital a block away weren't affected, Fisher said. The Hospital for Special Surgery specializes in orthopedic operations.


Associated Press Writers Beth Fouhy, Richard Pyle, Adam Goldman and Pat Milton contributed to this report.
Wed October 11 2006, 10:46 PM
That's so crazy. He used to play for my team. (The Toronto Blue Jays) He wasn't a great pitcher but jeeze I didn't want to see something like this happen to him. Once again I'll be very interested to see the cause of this accident, especially since that plane had a parachute in it. But flying so low amongst skyscrapers doesn't leave you much time to deploy the chute.

I mean, I was interested in this story before, and then I look back and see it was someone I knew from being on the Jays and that just added another layer.

In other news Barb, I got this email from my sis today:

I was out to the house today. The power is hooked up, and the painting is almost done. There are minor things left to do, and we are meeting with
Gary on Friday afternoon to get the stuff all signed and get the keys. I have set up the delivery of our stuff for this coming week, and we should be
moving in on the weekend of Oct 21-22. I just have to wait to hear back from Larry about getting the cube van for moving. I will let you know more
after we meet with Gary and I hear back from Larry.

So HOPEFULLY we'll be moving home soon, not a moment too soon either, god this has been frustrating.

"Those Who Don't Learn From The Past Are Doomed To Repeat It."
Thu October 12 2006, 06:42 PM
Murray, This is such a bizarre story. I can't imagine what went wrong?

Fri October 13 2006, 06:58 AM
Well, looking at it more closely since yesterday he was inexperienced, flying in poor weather, in a high traffic area, too low, and trying to make a turn an experienced pilot would have trouble with.

Still sucks tho.

"Those Who Don't Learn From The Past Are Doomed To Repeat It."
Fri October 13 2006, 07:45 AM
Murray, Sounds like some very poor decisions, between the two of them- Lidle and the flight instructor. It's just really shocking!
Sat October 14 2006, 09:35 PM
FAA bans most small planes from NY flight path
Sat 14 Oct 2006 0:05:35 BST

WASHINGTON, Oct 13 (Reuters) - U.S. regulators on Friday banned virtually all small planes from a popular New York flight path over safety and security concerns prompted by this week's crash of a plane that hit a Manhattan high rise.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it would prohibit general aviation aircraft from the low-altitude East River corridor in most cases, effective immediately. It will remain in place indefinitely.

The flight lane that abuts air space at LaGuardia airport is predominantly used by private fliers and sight-seeing operations, as well as traffic helicopters.

Some New York politicians were alarmed after Wednesday's crash that planes could still get close enough to New York's skyscrapers and other landmarks five years after the Sept. 11, 2001, hijack attacks destroyed the World Trade Center towers.

A single-engine plane owned by New York Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle slammed into a residential tower at roughly 500 feet during a sight-seeing flight that had followed the East River corridor.

Investigators have not determined who was flying the plane or why it crashed during a turn, but Lidle and a flight instructor were killed.

Lidle told air traffic controllers before he left Teterboro airport in New Jersey he was heading to the East River flight path in his Cirrus SR20, which did not require him to file a flight plan or maintain radio contact with FAA controllers.

The FAA said seaplanes will still be allowed to use the East River flight lanes as will traffic helicopters. Those planes that are allowed to fly along the East River must maintain contact with air traffic control, the FAA said.

Aviation experts said the East River corridor, unlike a similar flight path along the Hudson River, is narrow and can be challenging for novice fliers. The FAA restriction does not apply to the Hudson River corridor.