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May 9, 2014

Small plane crashes in Roxbury, pilot injured

Single-engine craft was built in 1943

A small plane crashed about 12:30 p.m. today off North Montgomery Hollow Road in Roxbury, and the lone occupant, pilot James Leavelle, 45, of Mentor, Ohio, sustained non-life-threatening injuries, according to State Police at Oneonta zone Sgt. David Lennon.

The Federal Aviation Administration said in an email that a North American AT-6C, single-engine aircraft, manufactured in 1943, landed short of a grass strip near Roxbury.

Leavelle was airlifted to Bassett Medical Center. He told police that he was flying to a New York airport from Ohio and tried to avoid a storm by landing in a privately owned grass strip.

The aircraft, registered to Avpast LLC of Mentor, Ohio, was substantially damaged.

Toni Etts, operator of Toni's Boarding Kennel, told The Daily Star the plane crashed on her property, about 300 to 400 yards away from the kennel where she was working.

"I think he was trying to land on the meadow but he was coming in too fast," she said. The plane was "in pieces," she said, and emergency workers were at the scene.

Delaware County Undersheriff Craig DuMond said state police and the Roxbury town constable were in charge at the scene.

A local merchant said he observed a low-flying plane shortly before the crash in the vicinity of The Roxbury, a lodging facility off County Highway 31.

Sean O'Shaughnessy of Roxbury, a local real estate agent, said he observed the plane flying low above Roxbury before the crash, and noted it appeared to be of World War 2 vintage, or a replica of a vintage aircraft.

"We knew it was in trouble," O'Shaughnessy said. "It flew in, and to the end of town, circled, came back and flew over our house. The undercarriage was down, so I knew he was trying to put it down. He turned back, heading toward Grand Gorge. Very low, and just didn't sound right, and started to get lower and lower.”

(Daily Star reporter Joe Mahoney contributed to this story.)

 

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