LANCASTER – The Lancaster Police Department on Sunday identified the two deceased plane crash victims as 78-year-old Anthony Mercurio who was the pilot and 14-year-old James Metz who was the passenger. Both are from Lancaster.
NTSB Investigator Brian Rayner also explained how his investigation of the collision and crash will take place. His final report on the facts of the crash will take about a year to complete. Rayner says he will be focusing on both pilots’ experience and medical conditions, the maintenance record of the planes, and even the weather conditions which were clear skies with sunshine. They will also review radar from the Buffalo airport, any radio communications between the pilots and the Lancaster airport, and of course the eyewitness testimony from the surviving pilot and those who saw and heard the crash.
Rayner says he also spoke with the pilot of the other plane which made a forced hard landing in Alden after the collision. The other plane was a kit built Searay which was transported to the Lancaster Police station for further examination. The pilot of that plane was identified as 59 year old Kevin D’Angelo and the passenger was an unidentified nine year old girl. They survived with minor injuries.
Rayner says D’Angelo has fully cooperated with the investigation and obviously felt very shaken by the turn of events.
Patricia Farinacci, who was visiting her mother’s home with her brother Michael Long, watched that plane plunge straight to the ground after it collided with another plane on Saturday morning.
“Right away, you start thinking about the victim’s families. Just shock. Sad,” Farinacci said. “Wishing I didn’t see it.”
Farinacci and Long said they both rushed to the scene of the crash to search for of Mercurio and Metz’s downed plane, immediately after witnessing it nosedive into the ground after the collision. They called 9-1-1, met up with emergency crews and saw the remains of the plane, describing it as looking as though it had simply decayed. The front of the plane was entirely destroyed, they said, and there was no visible smoke or fire.
“I would like to think the victims didn’t suffer,” Long said. “It happened so fast that I don’t think anyone had a chance to realize what was happening.”
Metz, a freshman at Lancaster High School, was remembered by classmates as a swimmer and a member of band.
“He was a kid that, when I sat next to him in study hall or religion, he would make everyone laugh,” Irene Handy said. “And everyone would smile when he was around.”
Rick Robinson, a Lancaster firefighter and family friend of James Metz, decided to visit the crash scene on Saturday.
“Fantastic people,” Robinson said. “You always hear, it always happens to good people. They were very good people. My heart is with them.”