All 3 Victims Identified in Deadly Small Plane Crash on Long Island

Authorities have identified the three people killed in the small plane crash on Long Island Tuesday. 

The victims were pilot David C. Berube, 66; Dana E. Paranteau, 49; and Benjamin Bridges, 32. All of them were from Bristol, Connecticut. 

Multiple friends of Berube first told NBC Connecticut Wednesday that the race car driver was one of the victims. 

The Hartford Courant reports Berube 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." 

The Courant reported that Berube; Paranteau, his girlfriend of eight years; and Bridges, one of Berube's employees, were returning from a wedding in South Carolina when the single-engine Beech BE35 plane broke apart in the air and crashed onto the ground in Syosset.

Police 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.

National Transportation Safety Board senior investigator Robert Gretz said Wednesday that the nose, tail and wings from the plane were recovered, 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. 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 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.

The NTSB confirmed the Beech plane was 43 years old but said that wasn't unusual for a general aviation plane. NTSB records show that type 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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