Connecticut Race Car Driver Identified Among 3 Dead in Small Plane Crash on Long Island: Report

A Connecticut race car driver was among the three people killed in the small plane crash on Long Island Tuesday afternoon, NBC Connecticut reports, citing multiple friends of the man. 

David Berube was one of three people on board the single-engine Beech BE35 plane when it broke apart in the air and crashed onto the ground in Syosset, friends told the Connecticut news station. The bodies of Berube, another man and a woman were recovered from the scene. 

Berube is also the registered owner of the plane.

The Hartford Courant reports Berube, 66, raced at numerous tracks in New England between 1990 and 2013. He was also a small business owner in Bristol. 

Berube drove in the Valenti Modified Racing Series from 2004 to 2013, the Courant reported. The organization mourned his death in a Facebook posting, calling him a "true gentleman." 

Nassau County Police Chief of Department Steven Skrynecki said police tentatively identified the three victims in the crash, but that they were not yet releasing their identities. The families have been notified. 

Skrynecki said that the bodies of the three victims were found near a school. One was found in a school parking lot, a second was discovered in the woods nearby, while the third was located about 50 yards from that.

The revelation comes less than an hour after National Transportation Safety Board senior investigator Robert Gretz said Wednesday that the nose, tail and wings from the plane, and that they'd been able to clean up enough of the wreckage from the one-third-mile debris field to reopen roadways.

But he added that they still don't know what caused the plane come apart and crash. That determination could take six to 12 months as investigators look into the mechanical, weather and human factors that may have played a part. 

"This is day two of an investigation that will take six to 12 months," he said. 

Gretz said that most of the debris from the plane -- which was traveling from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to Plainville, Connecticut -- collected around five sites over the 1/3 mile site, making cleanup and preliminary investigation difficult.

He said there was no evidence that there was an explosion midair, and that the spread of the wreckage suggested the plane came apart while it was flying. 

Gretz said that while it's not unheard of for a plane to come apart midair, it's not a routine investigation. 

"It's not a common investigation for us," Gretz said. "It does happen. In 18 years, I've probably worked five or 10 of them."

Gretz said that they're looking into the failure of instruments in the plane's instrument panel -- similar to a car dashboard -- before the plane broke apart. In mayday calls, the pilot of the craft mentioned the plane's vacuum pump, which controls pressure to several parts of the instrument panel, failing.

Police said that there was only minor property damage at one house that was hit by a falling wing in Tuesday's crash. No other damage or injuries were reported. 

They also asked anyone who found small pieces of debris over the next several days to call police or turn the wreckage into local police precincts.

The NTSB confirmed the Beech plane was 43 years old but said that wasn't unusual for a general aviation plane. NTSB records show the typat of plane has been involved in two prior fatal crashes in the past decade, and in one of those cases, the plane broke apart when the pilot lost control.

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