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Cancer patient missing, presumed dead after NY plane crash

EPHRATAH, N.Y. -- The search for a brain cancer patient who was on the volunteer medical flight that crashed in a wooded area of central New York stretched into a third day Monday.

Frank and Evelyn Amerosa of Utica, N.Y., were aboard an Angel Flight on Friday night when the twin-engine aircraft went down in Ephratah, a small town about an hour west of Albany, according to police and family members.

Officials and family said John Campbell, 70, of Stamford, Conn., was flying the couple back from the Boston area, where Frank Amerosa was being treated for brain cancer.

The bodies of Campbell and Evelyn Amerosa have been recovered from the rural crash site. Dozens of searchers, including a helicopter crew, continued searching the woods and water Sunday for 64-year-old Frank Amerosa, who was presumed dead, said Sgt. Brian Van Nostrand of the Fulton County Sheriff's Department.

Frank Amerosa, a retired trucker, had been diagnosed with brain cancer more than a year ago. Evelyn Amerosa, 58, worked at an area nursing home, directing residents in activities such as bingo and trips — a job she loved, said her daughter Heather Theobald. She said her mother had been with her stepfather for at least 16 years. The couple loved to travel and had recently returned from the Bahamas.

"Very happy, very much love, very optimistic, they did everything for anybody," Theobald told The Associated Press. "They were just very good people. They were loved by a lot of people."

Campbell was a volunteer pilot for Angel Flight, a nonprofit group that arranges free air transportation for the sick.

"John loved to fly and truly believed in the mission of Angel Flight. He loved volunteering his time and we take some solace in the fact he died doing something he loved while trying to help others," according to a family statement read to the AP by his daughter Kimberly Conti, of Rutherford, N.J.

Rescue workers on Sunday scoured the woods and searched a murky pond where the bulk of the aircraft was submerged. Wreckage from the crash was dispersed over a large area, with pieces of the plane found as far as five miles away.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators who returned to the crash site Sunday aim to retrieve the bulk of the wreckage from the water over the next few days, said agency spokesman Eric Weiss. They are looking for smartphones, GPS devices, computer tablets or other items that could "give the investigators some electronic evidence of what happened in the last minutes of flight," he said.

The Piper PA 34 had departed from Hanscom Field in Bedford, Mass., and was headed to Rome, N.Y., before it crashed just after 5 p.m. Friday, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said. The plane did not issue a distress call before losing radar and radio contact, the NTSB said.

Witnesses described the destruction that started in the air above Ephratah.

Joan Dudley, owner of Granny's Ice Cream Shanty, which is less than a mile from the crash site, said she and her employees saw the plane flip, then fall apart Friday night.

"Parts and pieces of it were flying through the sky, and a body fell out," Dudley said.

The Associated Press

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