I hadn’t seen Hardy, my mom’s cousin, in several years. I’m not even really sure when I last saw him – a reunion or a funeral. It all seems very weird.
[Edit: NTSB’s finding]
Two die in midair plane crash at Westerly State Airport
November 17, 2003
WESTERLY, R.I. — Two Rhode Island men died after the small plane they were riding in collided in midair with another small aircraft at Westerly State Airport, officials said Monday.
The airplanes, a Piper Arrow and a Cessna 182, crashed Sunday about 100 feet above the runway, according to Ted Drozdz, chief aeronautics inspector for Rhode Island Airport Corp. He said the airport does not have an air traffic control tower, and pilots are expected to notify each other when they are taking off and landing.
The two men in the Cessna, Peter Budd Coleman, 58, of South Kingstown, and Hardy Franklin Lebel, 65, of Westerly, died after being taken to Westerly Hospital. Lebel was the pilot. Two men and one woman on the Piper were evaluated at Westerly Hospital, according to hospital spokeswoman Judith West.
Patti Goldstein, a spokeswoman for the airport, said it was not clear what caused the collision, which happened at about 1:30 p.m. The National Transportation Safety Board was expected to release more details on Monday.
Scott Burns, vice commander of the Westerly Fire Department and the first rescue worker to arrive on the scene, said the Piper was landing when the collision occurred.
“A young pilot in his 20s was taking his grandparents out for a plane ride and was coming in to land,” Burns said. “Whether the other plane was landing or coming in, I’m unsure right now.”
The Cessna was registered to a man in Westerly and the Piper Arrow was owned by Windham Aviation in Willimantic, Conn., according to broadcast reports.
Drozdz said the airport was closed Sunday night so investigators could better inspect the runway. He dismissed suggestions that the airport’s lack of a control tower contributed to the crash.
“There are more untowered airports in the United States than there are towered airports,” Drozdz said.
The crash is the second fatal accident in the past five years at Westerly Airport. In 1999, three people died aboard a New England Airlines flight to Block Island when it crashed at the airport. Last March, two people were injured when their plane crashed into a row of trees just off the runway.
The airport is near Misquamicut State Beach, in the southwest section of town.
Copyright Â© 2003, The Associated Press
Police identify three survivors of two-plane collision
(Westerly, Rhode Island-AP, Nov. 19, 2003 4:00 PM) Rhode Island police have identified the pilot and two passengers injured Sunday when two planes collided at Westerly State Airport.
The pilot was 25-year-old Brooks Kay of the Jewett City section of Griswold. Connecticut. Police told The Providence Journal Kay’s passengers were 87-year-old Creighton Kay and 79-year-old Gwendoline Kay of Norwich, Connecticut.
Kay was attempting to land at the airport when his plane collided with a Cessna that had just taken off. The two men in the Cessna were killed after their damaged plane plunged nose down into the runway.
The Kays were taken to Westerly Hospital with minor injuries after the accident and released.
The accident is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Rhode Island Airport Corporation.