The body of a Queens man missing since a small plane crash off Long Island in February has been recovered in Setuaket Harbor, investigators say.
Gerson Salmon-Negron, 23, of Elmhurst, was a passenger aboard the Piper PA-28 when it lost fuel and crash-landed in the harbor between Port Jefferson and Setauket, less than a mile from shore, the night of Feb. 20.
The three others on the plane, including the student pilot and the instructor pilot, were rescued from the water, but Salmon-Negron remained missing for days before the search turned into a recovery effort.
The wait turned into two months for the college student's family.
Salmon-Negron's mother, Yvette Salmon, said the news brings painful closure.
"I have my body. And sure that he's dead. Before, I doubt it or I want to believe it's not true. Now I have to accept the reality," a grieving Salmon said Monday.
The NTSB is continuing to investigate but says it could be a year before they determine an official cause of the crash.
Salmon said her son loved planes and was about to graduate from aviation school in Queens.
Authorities said the plane had left Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and was headed to Republic Airport in Farmingdale when the pilot reported engine trouble.
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.