LAKE PLACID An experimental aircraft crashed into a wooded area just outside the village of Lake Placid, leaving three men to spend more than 10 hours in frigid conditions before they could be rescued early Friday.
The men, all in their 50s and all from Westfield, N.J., were checked out by an ambulance crew but declined additional medical treatment when state forest rangers brought them out of the woods on snowmobiles at about 4 a.m. Friday, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Agency spokesman David T. Winchell said state police contacted a department dispatcher at about 6:30 p.m. Thursday seeking forest rangers to head to the scene of a plane crash in a wooded area near the Lake Placid Airport, just south of the village. The men on board the Vans RV-10 experimental aircraft had used a cellphone to call Essex County emergency dispatchers and provide coordinates of the crash site, Winchell said.
A state police helicopter dispatched from nearby Lake Clear Airport was unable to reach the crash site because of weather conditions and darkness.
The mens information placed the crash site at Nye Mountain, near the airport. But by the time two rangers hiked to the location at 11 p.m., officials had determined they were in the wrong spot because the mens coordinates had been provided in a format not typically used by DEC search teams, Winchell said. Plotting the coordinates in another format placed the actual crash site about a mile from Whiteface Inn Road, about 2 miles northwest of the village.
Rangers reached the site at about 2 a.m., Winchell said. The men had used extra clothing and a tarp to stay warm in temperatures that dipped into the single digits, he said.
Officials identified the men as Michael Oster, 54; Jeff OConnor, 58, and Frank Dombroski, 51, all of Westfield in Union County, N.J., west of New York City. The men were believed to be staying in the Lake Placid area, but officials didnt know where, Winchell said.
Attempts to contact the men were unsuccessful.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane departed from Somerset Airport in Bedminster, N.J., and was headed to Lake Placid Airport when it crashed. The FAA is investigating what caused the crash.