Plane Registered to Cory Lidle, pitcher for NY Yankees strikes 50 Story Building in NYC
Lidle confirmed Dead
NEW YORK (Reuters) - At least two people were killed when a small aircraft crashed into a 52-story building on Manhattan's Upper East Side in overcast weather on Wednesday in what appeared to be an accident, officials said.
U.S. and New York officials said they had no reason to believe the crash was related to terrorism.
A New York police department spokeswoman said the crash killed two people and possibly more.
Military fighter jets were patrolling several U.S. cities as a precaution, the North American Aerospace Defense Command said.
"NORAD fighters are airborne over numerous cities. They are airborne now as a prudent measure," said NORAD spokeswoman Kyle Combs. She did not say which cities were being patrolled, or how many, but added the fighters were sent up right after the plane crashed into the building.
On Wall Street, U.S. stocks extended losses on the news but quickly recovered once it became clear the crash was not an attack similar to the hijacked plane attacks of September 11, 2001.
"We have no reason to believe at this point that it is terrorist related," said New York City Police Chief Michael Collins.
The aircraft crashed at East 72nd St. and York Avenue, near the East River, a 1980s building which is mainly upscale residential apartments but also has a small specialized hospital on the bottom 22 floors.
Luis Gonzales, 23, was working in the building remodeling a nearby apartment and saw the crash.
"I was looking out the window and I saw the plane coming so close to us and it swerved to try and avoid the building but it hit the building," he said. "It was a small plane. We went knocking on doors to try and see if people needed to get out, but we did not get any answers."
"I am still shaking," he said.
Smoke and flames poured from the upper floors of the high-rise building and more than one hundred firefighters were dispatched to the scene, reviving memories of the September 11 attacks.
"It's really bad. Flames are shooting from the building. I was on my terrace and I saw it," said witness Tressa Octave, who lives two blocks away.
The Federal Aviation Administration said preliminary information indicated the crash was a small plane.
"It's unknown what type of aircraft it is or how many people were aboard," FAA spokeswoman Diane Spitaliere said.
The plane was flying by visual flight rules, meaning the pilot does not have to be in contact with air traffic controllers.
Earlier, the fire department had said the craft was a helicopter.
Justice Department spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos said, "all indications from the FBI are that this was an accident. The initial assessment is that it probably just was a bad accident."
Paula Gonzales, who works in a neighboring building, said, "I was walking along the street then I heard a big bang and everybody looked up. I saw a plane go in. I saw small pieces of a plane falling. Then people started running."
John Madden from Tampa, Florida, in New York on business, was in the building next to the crash site. "The whole building shook, and we were told to evacuate."
White House spokesman Tony Fratto said President George W. Bush was aware of the crash in New York and "we're gathering facts" about it.
He said White House not commenting at this point on determining what happened.
Homeland Security spokeswoman Joanna Gonzalez said, "There is no indication of a terror nexis at this time. There's no specific or credible intelligence suggesting an imminent threat to the homeland at this time."
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2621860 (thanks 0405
I hope all ONTD readers in NYC around this area are all right
NEW YORK -- A small plane with New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle aboard crashed into a 50-story condominium tower Wednesday on Manhattan's Upper East Side, killing at least two people -- including Lidle -- and raining flaming debris on sidewalks, authorities said.
Federal Aviation Administration records showed the single-engine plane was registered to Lidle. A law enforcement official in Washington, speaking on condition on anonymity, said two people were aboard, and Lidle's passport was found at the crash scene. The plane had issued a distress call before the crash, according to the official.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said both people aboard were killed.
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. Lidle discussed the plane crash of John F. Kennedy Jr. and how he had read the accident report on the National Transportation Safety Board Web site.
Lidle, acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies on July 30, told The New York Times last month that his four-seat Cirrus SR20 plane was safe.
"The whole plane has a parachute [that can be deployed in the event of emergency] on it," Lidle said. "Ninety-nine percent of pilots that go up never have engine failure, and the 1 percent that do usually land it. But if you're up in the air and something goes wrong, you pull that parachute, and the whole plane goes down slowly."
Lidle also talked about airplanes' safety in an interview with MLB.com in February.
"If you're 7,000 feet in the air and your engine stops, you can glide for 20 minutes," Lidle said at the time. "As long as you're careful, everything should be fine."
Lidle pitched 1 1/3 innings in the fourth and final game of the AL Division Series against the Detroit Tigers and gave up three earned runs but was not the losing pitcher. He had a 12-10 regular-season record with a 4.85 ERA.
He pitched with the Phillies before coming to the Yankees, who acquired him at the July trade deadline along with outfielder Bobby Abreu. He began his career in 1997 with the Mets. He also pitched for Tampa Bay, Oakland, Toronto and Cincinnati.
Lidle was an outcast among some teammates throughout his career because he became a replacement player in 1995, when major-leaguers were on strike.
For his career, he was 82-72 with two saves and a 4.57 ERA.
"Right now, I am really in a state of shock, as I am sure the entire MLB family is," former teammate Jason Giambi said in a statement. "My thoughts are with Cory's relatives and the loved ones of the others who were injured or killed in this plane crash. I have known Cory and his wife, Melanie, for over 18 years and watched his son grow up. We played high school ball together and have remained close throughout our careers. We were excited to be reunited in New York this year and I am just devastated to hear this news."
"I wish I had the words. I have no words. I just have strong emotions, it's sadder than sad," Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson, who was Lidle's pitching with the A's from 2001-02, told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark. "I wish I had an answer [about how to prepare for a baseball game under these circumstances]. I don't have an answer. You try to deal with the emotions first. It's horrific, it's unbelievable, just a surreal moment. It just shows how insignificant some of the things we think are significant really are."
The twin-engine plane came through a hazy, cloudy sky and hit the 20th floor of The Belaire -- a red-brick tower overlooking the East River, about five miles from the World Trade Center -- with a loud bang, touching off a raging fire that cast a pillar of black smoke over the city and sent flames shooting from four windows on two adjoining floors.
Large crowds gathered in the street in the largely wealthy New York neighborhood, with many people in tears and some trying to reach loved ones by cell phone.
"I was worried the building would explode, so I got out of there fast," said Lori Claymont, who fled an adjoining building in sweatpants.
Young May Cha, a 23-year-old Cornell University medical student, said she was walking back from the grocery store down 72nd Street when she saw an object out of the corner of her eye.
"I just saw something come across the sky and crash into that building," she said. Cha said there appeared to be smoke coming from behind the aircraft, and "it looked like it was flying erraticaly for the short time that I saw it."
"The explosion was very small. I was not threatened for my life," she added.
Richard Drutman, a professional photographer who lives on the 11th floor, said he was talking 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," Drutman said. He and his girlfriend quickly evacuated the building.
The plane left New Jersey's Teterboro Airport, just across the Hudson River from the city, at 2:30 p.m., about 15 minutes before the crash, according to officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the airport. But they said they did not where the aircraft was headed.
FAA spokeswoman Diane Spitaliere said the plane was apparently not in contact with air traffic controllers; pilots flying small planes by sight are not required to be in contact.
ABC News reported Wednesday that after Lidle's plane departed Teterboro, it took a normal flight pattern down the Hudson River and appears to have circled the Statue of Liberty, headed up the East River. It fell off the radar at about 59th Street. The apartment the plane crashed into was the entire 40th floor of the building, and it appears two other apartments on the 41st floor suffered from the impact.
The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team to investigate.
Former NTSB director Jim Hall said in a telephone interview he doesn't understand how a plane could get so close to a New York City building after Sept. 11.
"We're under a high alert and you would assume that if something like this happened, people would have known about it before it occurred, not after," Hall said.
Mystery writer Carol Higgins Clark, daughter of author Mary Higgins Clark, lives on the 38th floor and was coming home in a cab when she saw the smoke.
"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, lawyers, writers and people with second homes.
Sgt. Claudette Hutchinson, a spokeswoman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado Springs, Colo., said fighter jets "are airborne over numerous U.S. cities and while every indication is that this is an accident, we see this as a prudent measure at this time."
However, all three New York City-area airports continued to operate normally, FAA spokesman Jim Peters said. In Washington, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said neither President Bush nor Vice President Dick Cheney was moved to secure locations.
"All indications are that is an unfortunate accident," said Yolanda Clark, a spokeswoman for Homeland Security's Transportation Security Administration. She said there was "no specific or credible intelligence suggesting an imminent threat to the homeland, at this time."
The crash struck fear in a city devastated by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Sirens echoed across the neighborhood as about 170 firefighters rushed in along with emergency workers and ambulances. Broken glass and debris were strewn around the neighborhood.
"There's a sense of helplessness," said Sandy Teller, watching from his apartment a block away. "Cots and gurneys, waiting. It's a mess."
The tower was built in the late 1980s and is situated near Sotheby's auction house. It has 183 apartments, many of which sell for more than $1 million.
Several lower floors 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 were not affected, Fisher said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.