An unresponsive small private plane that lost contact with ground controllers Friday morning during a flight from Rochester, N.Y., to Naples, Fla., has crashed into the sea off the island of Jamaica.
Jamaican Defense Force Civil Military Coordinator Major Basil Jarrett confirmed to Fox News Friday that the plane crashed into the water 14 miles northeast of Port Antonio, Jamaica.
Early reports indicated there were three people on the plane. Jarrett did not provide any information on who was aboard, but said Jamaica has dispatched a rescue team to the crash site.
The U.S. Coast Guard also told Fox News that a C-130 plane is en route to the crash scene.
FlightAware, an aviation tracking website, identified the plane’s tail number as N900KN. FAA records show the plane is owned by a company based at the same address as a real estate firm in Rochester. The firm, Buckingham Properties, is owned by developer Larry Glazer, who also is president of the TBM Owners and Pilots Association.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Friday afternoon that Larry and Jane Glazer were among the dead in the crash.
“The Glazers were innovative and generous people who were committed to revitalizing downtown Rochester and making the city they loved a better place for all,” Cuomo said. “I offer my deepest condolences to the Glazers’ family and friends during this difficult and trying time.”
A person who answered the phone at Buckingham Properties declined to comment. Glazer’s son Rick Glazer told The Associated Press: “I don’t have any comment about what’s going on at this time.”
According to Buckingham’s website, “Larry spends some of his spare time on the ground — gardening around his house with his wife, Jane; and some in the sky — flying his plane.”
The plane took off at 8:45 a.m. EDT from the Greater Rochester International Airport in New York, according to local officials. Air traffic controllers were last able to contact the pilot of the Socata TBM700, a high performance single-engine turboprop, at 10 a.m. EDT, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.
The pilot, who was not identified, had filed a flight plan with the FAA to fly from Rochester to Naples, Florida. F-15 fighter jets were scrambled at 11:30 a.m. EDT and followed the plane until it reached Cuban airspace, when they peeled off, said Preston Schlachter, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command & US Northern Command. FlightAware showed the plane over the Caribbean south of Cuba at about 2 p.m. EDT.
The plane reached the altitude of 25,000 feet, MyFoxTampaBay.com reported, and traveled more than 1,700 miles.
NORAD said the cause of the lost contact could be due to hypoxia. A fighter jet pilot reportedly observed condensation on one of the small plane’s windows.
The Air Force and Transportation Security Administration contacted Rochester airport officials about the plane at about 10:45 a.m., according to Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks. The airport referred all inquiries to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The incident is the second time in less than a week that private pilot has become unresponsive during a flight. On Saturday, a pilot lost consciousness and his plane drifted into restricted airspace over the nation’s capital. Fighter jets were also launched in that case and stayed with the small aircraft until it ran out of fuel and crashed Saturday into the Atlantic.