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1 dead, 2 critically injured in Queens small plane crash, FDNY says

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Posted at 3:35 PM, Oct 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-05 05:22:21-04

WHITESTONE, Queens — A woman was killed and three others were injured in a small plane crash in Queens Sunday afternoon, officials said.

It happened at Riverside Drive and 158th Street at about 3 p.m., where the seaplane skipped twice on the water and crashed into a concrete pier near Powell’s Cove Boulevard on the Long Island Sound, according to the FDNY.

Police confirmed early Monday that 61-year-old Maggie O'Neill, of Queens, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Two men were extricated from the single engine Cessna 182 plane with critical injuries. They were treated at the scene and then taken to local hospitals.

A fourth person who was jet skiing in the area and helped the injured passengers at the scene suffered minor injuries.

The National Transportation Safety Board was investigating the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration was also notified.

Fire officials said the pilot may have been trying to land the seaplane in his private hangar nearby when the plane skipped twice on the water and crashed into the gated, closed off pier of the Beechhurst Beach Club.

Jet skiers tried to rescue the passengers. They removed two of the occupants from the plane by the time FDNY units arrived, just four minutes after the crash, according to FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro.

The pilot and a male passenger were rushed to the hospital in critical condition.

Neighbors in the Beechhurst section were shaken by what they had witnessed.

“I ran down and went down to the cockpit, but three jet skiers had two people out,” John Polito, a neighbor, told PIX11 News.

Neighbors told PIX11 the pilot was a well-known and well-liked neighbor, Joe Oppedisano, who lives just a few blocks away and keeps his seaplane in a hanger behind his house on the water.

Sources confirmed his identity to PIX11 News.

“He’s had a seaplane for 15 years,” Clare Hogan, another neighbor, told PIX11 News. ”He flies it often. Many times I see it. I hear it taking off. He’s experienced,” she added.

Oppedisano owns Il Bacco, an Italian restaurant on Northern Boulevard in Little Neck; he had been leading the charge to get indoor dining back in New York City.

Longtime customers are sending prayers .

“I wish Joe the best,” John Badome, a long time customer, told PIX11 News. “We love you Joe,” his daughter, Nicole, added.