Rescue efforts to find a missing Queens man continued Monday after a small plane flown by a student-pilot crashed off the coast of Long Island Sunday, authorities said.
The missing man was identified as Gerson Salmon-Negron, of Queens, authorities said. The search for Salmon-Negron has been deemed a recovery effort, police said.
His mother, Yvette Salmon said that he loved planes and was about to graduate from aviation school when the plane he was flying in, a Piper PA-28 landed in the waters of Port Jefferson Harbor at about 11 p.m. Saturday, authorities said.
Officers in kayaks commandeered from houses along the shore and began paddling out into the harbor, using their flashlights to guide them toward the voices crying for help.
The 25-year-old student pilot, Austricio Ramirez, of the Bronx, was flying at the time the plane ran into engine trouble, but he turned controls over to the 36-year-old instructor pilot, Nelson Gomez, of Queens. All four men exited the plane into the water. Ramirez, Gomez, and a third person, Wady Perez, 25, of Queens, were rescued by Suffolk County police.
Salmon-Negron was missing when cops arrived.
One of the men was wearing a life jacket and losing consciousness when officers reached him, police said. An officer used his duty belt to hold another afloat atop a kayak and the third made it nearly to the shoreline when an officer threw him an inflatable ring to grab ahold of.
The three were treated and released at Stony Brook University Hospital.
Coast Guard officials said the search for Salmon-Negron went on for 18 hours through the night, covering 90 square miles before the agency pulled its personnel from the search just after 10 a.m.
Two police department boats and a dive team continued searching the harbor Sunday afternoon, and the search resumed again on Monday.
Authorities said the plane had left Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and was headed to Republic Airport in Farmingdale when the pilot reported engine trouble.
Gomez's wife said that she thought her husband was a hero, saving the lives of others in the plane.
"It was the middle of night," she said. "All the stress, he saved in the lives of people on that plane."
The FAA is investigating and the National Transportation Safety Board will determine the probable cause.