PURCHASE, New York (TJM) -- The National Transportation Safety Board has cleared the scene of Friday's fatal plane crash that killed a member of the Rockefeller family as the agency enters the next phase of its investigation, which could take up to a year to complete, officials said.
An iPad and a piece of the engine the NTSB can get parameters off of were among the wreckage recovered from the Piper Meridian single-engine turboprop plane, which was piloted by 65-year-old Richard Rockefeller and crashed shortly after leaving Westchester County Airport, agency spokesman Eric Weiss said Sunday.
There are also witness reports the agency is going to follow up on, Weiss added, and the airplane is now in an undisclosed location before it is transferred to a storage facility in Delaware.
"We look at the man, the machine and the environment," Weiss told The Journal News of the second phase of the investigation, which includes a 72-hour look back before the crash. In the meantime, a preliminary report should become available in seven to 10 days.
As the NTSB continues its probe, local law enforcement have also left the scene off Cottage Avenue, which ran from Purchase Street to the SUNY Purchase campus, Harrison police said.
Rockefeller, who practiced as a family physician until 2000 and had worked on global health causes, was flying back home to Maine after visiting the family estatein Pocantico Hills. His father, David Rockefeller, served as chairman and chief executive of Chase Manhattan and celebrated his 99th birthday Thursday.
He took off for Portland from Runway 16 under foggy and rainy conditions at 8:06 a.m. and crashed about two minutes later southwest of the airport and northwest of SUNY Purchase, striking trees off Cottage Avenue and narrowly missing a house. There was no distress call or post-crash fire. He was the only person on board and no one else was injured.
On Friday, there was a quarter-mile visibility around the time of the crash, with a 200-foot cloud ceiling. The NTSB has requested radar data but the plane may have never made it to radar coverage level, Weiss said.
During the second phase of its investigation, the NTSB will collect aircraft and maintenance records, look at how often Rockefeller flew and how recently, examine medical records and test engine or aircraft components if necessary, Weiss said. That information will make up part of a factual report, taking up to a year to complete.
A probable cause report during the third and final phase of the investigation could be issued a month or six weeks later, the spokesman said.