Father of 7 Sent Wife a Message Before He and Pilot Died in N.Y. Plane Crash: 'I Love You and the Kids'

Beechcraft Bonanza A36
Beechcraft Bonanza A36


Two men, who were members of Cleveland's Orthodox Jewish community, died after their plane crashed in a rural area of New York, according to authorities.

The bodies of Benjamin Chafetz and Boruch Taub were found near their plane that crashed in Westchester County, a New York City suburb, on Thursday, WABC-TV reported.

The single-engine Beechcraft A36 was traveling from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Cuyahoga County Airport in Richmond Heights, Ohio, when Taub, the pilot, reported engine problems, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

At a press conference on Friday, Westchester County Executive George Latimer said Taub attempted an emergency landing at Westchester County Airport in White Plains, but crashed into a "heavily wooded" area nearby.

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The aircraft was eventually found in trees on the northern side of Rye Lake by Loudon Point Woods, an area Latimer said is "difficult" to reach.

Before the crash, Chafetz was able to communicate with his wife on the phone one last time shortly before the crash, Latimer said.

Chafetz sent a message to a WhatsApp group that said the plane's engines had gone out and asked the community to pray for him, according to the Jewish Chronicle.

"I love you and the kids," he wrote.

The Cleveland Jewish News reports that Chafetz apparently sent the message intended for his wife in the group chat.

Members of Chafetz's family could not be reached for comment.

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Chafetz and Taub were experienced pilots, according to the owner of Daviation, a company in Willoughby, Ohio, per CBS affiliate WCBS-TV.

Crews worked fast to find the victims so their bodies could be returned to Cleveland before sundown on Friday and buried in accordance with Jewish tradition, Latimer said Friday.

However, darkness and inclement weather hindered search crews' initial efforts to find the wreckage, he added.

The plane was found in a tree about five hours after Thursday's crash just before 11 p.m., the executive told reporters. The crash scene was about a 30-minute walk from the nearest property.

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The victims' bodies have been examined and released "for proper burial in Ohio," he added.

"They leave a hole at their dinner table, in their homes," he said. "They leave a hole in their communities — communities of faith."

Chafetz is survived by his wife and seven children, according to the Chronicle.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NSTB) and the FAA are investigating the crash.