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Aug 28, 2012 5:35 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Plane Crashes At East Hampton Airport On Sunday

Aug 28, 2012 6:50 PM

The heroics of a group of men may have saved the life of a Massachusetts woman who was in an airplane that crashed in the woods and caught fire shortly after taking off from the East Hampton Airport on Sunday evening.

Craig Schum, of Brooklyn, scaled a fence barefoot, ran through the woods and helped pull the passenger, Kim Brillo, out of the small plane before it burst into flames. He was joined by 17-year-old Jack Gleeson and Michael Norbeck, employees of Sound Aircraft Services, who also scaled the fence and helped move Ms. Brillo to safety before the plane was engulfed in fire.

Steven Bochter, the pilot, was able to walk on his own, and helped Ms. Brillo, who was unconscious and appeared not to be breathing, according to Mr. Gleeson and Mr. Schum.

The two victims were airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital, and were in stable condition as of Monday, according to East Hampton Town Police Chief Ed Ecker Jr.

The single-engine plane, a Mooney M20C which seats four people, “lost power” after taking off from the airport’s main runway heading in an easterly direction, according to reports from witnesses and police. The plane appeared to be flying lower than usual, and witnesses said they heard it graze the treetops.

“And the pilot made a turn to the left, to try to make a landing back at the airport,” said Chief Ecker on Sunday hours after the crash. “And he went into the woods, about 100 yards east of Daniels Hole Road.”

The pair were “conscious” before being flown to Stony Brook University Hospital for “varying degrees of injury,” he said. He mentioned that Ms. Brillo may have had a broken arm, and the men who carried her out of the wreckage said she appeared to have difficulty breathing.

Fire departments from East Hampton, Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton responded.

The couple were on their back to Taunton, Massachusetts.

Officials said they do not know what caused the plane to lose power and crash, and it may take some time before it is determined. A National Transportation Safety Board spokesman said it could take a year and a half to complete a thorough report on the accident.

“We’re very early,” said Eric Weiss, a public affairs officer with the NTSB. “It just happened on Sunday, the 26. So we’re very, very, early in the fact-gathering stage. We will not issue a probable cause until the very end of the investigation.”

Mr. Gleeson said he and Mr. Norbeck were near the front of the airport when they saw the plane. He said the plane was flying very low and he heard something that didn’t sound right—“like the engine was about to quit on it.”

“At first I thought it was doing some sort of stunt for people at the airport,” Mr. Gleeson said. “I didn’t think much of it. And a few moments later everybody heard the trees cracking and the plane crash.”

That’s when he and Mr. Norbeck, a manager at Sound Aircraft Services, jumped into Mr. Norbeck’s car. Their rescue mission was delayed when Mr. Norbeck realized he did not have his keys. When he ran inside to get them, Mr. Gleeson took off on foot in the direction of the crash.

“I ran across the road and I saw, well Craig, was already halfway up the fence and looked like he was having trouble getting over it,” said Mr. Schum said.

Mr. Schum saw the crash after he stopped to chat with a group of people who had gathered at the airport to protest noise, especially from helicopters, on his way home from work at the Levaine Bakery in Wainscott.

“And while discussing that, I would say within a minute or two of me stopping, there was just this humongous raucous and explosion in the trees,” a still-shaken Mr. Schum said by phone from work on Monday morning. “The forest basically just, like, blew up right behind us.”

Without even thinking about it, Mr. Schum said he ran toward the explosion. Barefoot, he scaled a fence he estimated was about 12 feet high. “My only thought that I remember was getting to the top of this fence and thinking ‘I should not jump off this thing,’ and then I jumped, and kept running,” Mr. Schum said.

When he got to the plane, it had already caught fire. The pilot was stumbling about and fell down once, “clearly dazed” but conscious, Mr. Schum said. The woman could not move, he said. They were both bleeding.

Mr. Schum, Mr. Gleeson and Mr. Norbeck helped the pilot carry Ms. Brillo back to the fence before the plane became engulfed in flames. This time, instead of trying to scale it, they crawled under it.

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So, keep those planes away from houses. Too dangerous on the roads and in the air.
By Fishnut (6), East hampton on Aug 26, 12 7:28 PM
Well, I got two hours of relief from helicopter noise here in Noyac while the airport was closed down due to the crash. I hear the pilot and passenger walked away from the crash, after losing power right after taking off from runway 10.
By BruceB (142), Sag Harbor on Aug 26, 12 7:36 PM
I'm pleased that the plane accident victims were rescued...Now shut that airport down!
By Toma Noku (616), uptown on Aug 26, 12 10:17 PM
2 members liked this comment
Your attitudes and taxes are why I never even considered the northeast for my business. For you who say small planes are too dangerous around houses, please remind me of the last time someone on the ground was killed or injured by a small plane crashing into a house. Typically only the occupants of airplanes are killed when they crash into a building, guys like that Yankees pitcher, or that kid, Charles Bishop, who crashed his plane into the Bank of America building in Tampa. One person outside ...more
By Hugo_Stiglitz (2), Saint Petersburg on Aug 26, 12 11:00 PM
That is the theme here in the Hamptons move next to the dumps and complain of the smell. Move next to the airport complain of the noise it goes on and on. They all move here, hate the traffic and pollution. If you don't like pollution disconnect your septic system, bring bottled water, and get a horse and buggy. Oh I forgot you want someone else to do that.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Aug 27, 12 7:04 AM
1 member liked this comment
Am not an expert, but it seems planes have changed markedly since the date that aurport opened...and it probably had more to do with crop-dusting planes then than the commercial aircraft in use now. Same story with the roadways. Originally built to accomodate much less traffic, much lighter cars...not the huge numbers that increase every year not to mention construction trucking and heavy machinery. Also our water table cannot accomodate so much use and over use. Bye bye peaceful restful East ...more
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Aug 27, 12 7:21 AM
So you think the plane crashed because the runway wasn't sufficient? Not sure what you are getting at. What's your solution to us turning into "Nassau" which is an absurd statement
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Aug 27, 12 9:07 AM
PS. I wonder why the names were not released of the plane's occupants? If they were ordinary folk we would know who they are right away. Perhaps they attended Biden's fundraiser in Bridgehampton and as the uber wealthy they can claim anonymity too. Since our nation's leaders have to be fundraisers first, oay their media dues during campaign time, and then take on the mantle of leadership second. Real true leaders may be out there, but without reforms of this media driven formula we will never ...more
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Aug 27, 12 7:27 AM
Names are in Newsday... Yes, it's a big consiparacy with uber wealthy people related to Biden's visit. Orr.... it's a car dealer from Massachussettes. You were close though!
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Aug 27, 12 10:51 AM
1 member liked this comment
Hugo, although I find the delivery of your message quite rude ( was trash really the right word) I do agree with you. If live near an airport, a main road way or the local dumps get over it or move but please stop complaining
By jacks (70), hampton bays on Aug 27, 12 8:51 AM
Fair enough. My apologies. I guess I got a little inflamed in regards to a couple of the comments that I read; there was no reason for me to attack with teeth and it was a reflex emotional response.
By Hugo_Stiglitz (2), Saint Petersburg on Aug 27, 12 5:43 PM
In response to comment by Nature....my comment is aimed at the increase in numbers of vehicles, planes or cars or construction vehicles, their weight and increased activity. My comment about Nassau County which Suffolk resembles more and more as time and population density and traffic continue.

My comment about people affording their own planes has nothing to do with conspiracy. Lately the local media seems not to publish names...and in the case of the unlicensed undocumented driver who ...more
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Aug 27, 12 11:19 AM
Except that you're wrong in this case and made a mountain out of a molehill. You used the lack of a name in the article to launch a rant on politics and the media when it had nothing to do with it. Furthermore, the hit and run was criminal. This plane crash was not

I don't know what your point is regarding increased traffic and "their weight". How does that contribute to a single engine plane crash? Please expand on this.

As for population - so it's OK for you to be part ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Aug 27, 12 12:08 PM
Well said!
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Aug 28, 12 11:00 AM
I tip my hat to Mr. Schum. This world seems sorely lacking in persons willing to put their own safety and comfort aside to help a neighbor, just because it's the right thing to do. We'll all slow down to watch the car accident, the person with a flat tire, the man chasing his dog down the road, the plane crash victim....but how many of us stop to offer our help. We have places to be, things to do, and we simply don't want to get our hands THAT dirty. I stand in awe of those who can put all that ...more
By EQMama (29), East Quogue on Aug 27, 12 12:22 PM
3 members liked this comment
OT -- Speaking of the hit and run death of Sister Walsh, tonight marks the seventh week of this crime remaining unsolved, with almost no public statements from the authorities in general, or from Chief Wilson and Supv. Throne-Holst specifically.

Shameful . . . .
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 27, 12 12:27 PM
Nice job Mr. Schum! Even if you are "uncomfortable" with the attention I'm sure the couple in the plane will be forever greatful for your instinctive reaction!
By Rich Morey (378), Brooklyn on Aug 27, 12 12:57 PM
1 member liked this comment
Oops, i woke up ranting speculatively today ...wait for a second cup of coffee in order to have any opinions you might want converse about with locals on 27 east news. Actually the caliber of your discussion is beyond most viewed in this arena ...basis in reality required for them?
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Aug 27, 12 2:57 PM
Actually the caliber of your discussion is beyond most viewed in this arena ...basis in reality required for them?

By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Aug 27, 12 3:00 PM
Lookit, Nature, the East End is unsafe now..that is on my mind. And the election seesms a hoax this year. That is alo on my mind. My early thoughts today. What are your thoughts, Buddy?
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Aug 27, 12 4:03 PM
Can we get outside investigators to look into why the police refused to release the name and photo of the hit and run suspect in the case of Sister Jackie? I have NEVER BEFORE heaard of police having the name and photo of their suspect and refusing to release them to the public for a week.
By btdt (449), water mill on Aug 27, 12 4:06 PM
OT -- Even the Press had an editorial criticizing the decision to withhold the name and photo. This bold editorial many weeks ago has seen ZERO follow-through IMO in holding the authorities up to the public light of day.

Tonight, by the way, marks the 7th week since Sister Walsh was mowed down and left to die on the side of the road, and Labor Day will mark two solid months.

Perhaps more public outrage will spark some action by the Press or the town's chief of police and supervisor?

Links ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 27, 12 4:35 PM
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 27, 12 4:36 PM
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 27, 12 4:37 PM
Craig Schum, you ARE a hero. You ran toward danger and risked your life for strangers. Thank you.
By Montaukette (46), Waterland on Aug 28, 12 2:13 AM
Mr. Schum was acting as a guardian angel that day. He was in the right place at the right time and had the integrity and physical strength to help the victims. He is a hero and that is a fact.
By Mrs.Sea (268), Sag Harbor on Aug 28, 12 11:22 AM