Northern New York Newspapers
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Sun., Oct. 4
Serving the community of Ogdensburg, New York
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Plane crashes in Sylvia Lake


BALMAT — A man injured when his seaplane crashed in Sylvia Lake on Wednesday afternoon was flown to Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, in serious condition.

The pilot was Larry Kraker, 64, Sylvia Lake, said W. Joseph Lacks, St. Lawrence County fire investigator and a Gouverneur firefighter.

Mr. Lacks said the cause of the crash hasn’t been determined.

“He was flying around the lake and crashed in the water close to the shore,” Mr. Lacks said.

Mr. Kraker was flying alone at the time of the crash. Mr. Lacks said there were campers nearby who pulled him out of the partially submerged plane.

“They kept him above water with life jackets until a pontoon boat and myself arrived,” Mr. Lacks said. “We got him in the boat and to the pumphouse on Pumphouse Road.”

Calaeb R. Hance, 15, Gouverneur, and Wyatt R. Porter, 14, were on a water scooter when they looked up and noticed that the ultralight plane’s engine had failed.

“We saw him hovering and we heard the engine stop,” Calaeb said. “He hovered for 10 seconds and then the plane dove in head first.”

The plane landed in a swampy area that residents call “the inlet,” on the south end of the lake.

“I floored the Jet-Ski and we were the first there,” said Wyatt, whose father and uncle own camps on the lake. The plane was pulled out of the water onto the uncle’s property.

“We had to lift the wing up and were trying to get his head above water,” Wyatt said. “We didn’t know if we were supposed to move him.”

State police Sgt. Eric R. Hadlock said the accident was reported to the Federal Aviation Administration and investigators will evaluate the wreckage to decipher the cause of the crash.

“When they brought him to shore he was alert and conscious,” Sgt. Hadlock said. “We pulled the plane out of the inlet and at the recommendation of the DEC wanted to do so as quickly as possible to limit contamination.”

State Department of Environmental Conservation personnel were on the scene cleaning up what fuel was spilled from the accident into the lake using contamination-absorbing pads.

DEC Officer Scott W. Atwood said only a small amount of gas leaked into the lake.

“Two or three gallons of fuel might have leaked out,” Mr. Atwood said. “It could have been worse. The gas tanks were intact except for a small hole.”

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