Bodies Recovered From Small Plane That Crashed In Waters Off Long Island

TWA Flight 800 Crashed About 10 Miles Away In '96



11:34 PM EDT, October 20, 2012



The bodies of the two men killed in Saturday's small plane crash in Moriches Inlet, off the South Shore of Long Island, N.Y. have been recovered.

Earlier in the day, the U.S. Coast Guard said a man and woman had been killed. The victims have now been identified as Queens residents Cyril Mclavin, 51, of Fresh Meadows and Andrew Messana, 72, of Bayside. They took off from nearby Spadaro Airport in East Moriches.

According to the Coast Guard, the plane -- identified by the Federal Aviation Administration as a Globe Swift from the early post-World War II era -- sputtered and plunged into 30 feet of water, settling upside down. Eyewitnesses on a nearby beach told Newsday they saw the tail break apart as it was going down.

Suffolk County police say a boater tried to keep the aircraft afloat by tying it to his vessel hoping to prevent the fuselage from going under, this as others tried to pry the jammed doors open, but failed. It looked like Mclavin and Messana were already unconscious, quickly turning the emergency from a Search And Rescue into a Search And Recovery effort. This was around 3 p.m. EDT. Divers weren't able to free the men until about 11 p.m.

FAA inspectors were on the scene early. But because there were fatalities, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is now spearheading the investigation.

Moriches Inlet is a small body of water connecting Moriches Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. The name Moriches comes from Meritces, a Native American who owned land on Moriches Neck. It forms the eastern border of Fire Island, N.Y., and the western border of the barrier island on which West Hampton Dunes, N.Y., is the closest community.

The inlet was formed by a Nor'easter in 1931. It's about 45 miles from John F. Kennedy International Airport, in Jamaica, Queens, and approximately 62 miles from Midtown Manhattan.

If the name Moriches Inlet rings a bell, that's because it was the primary water access route for recovery ships following the fiery, July 17, 1996, crash of TWA Flight 800. It blew apart and plunged into the Atlantic about 10 miles due south of the inlet.

All 230 people on board were killed.