Westchester Plane Crash Leaves Midtown Family Among Four Dead
By Tim Gorta and Tom Liddy
MANHATTAN - A Midtown family was among four killed in a horrific small plane crash in Westchester County on the eve of Father's Day, officials and family members said.
Keith Weiner, 63, a flight instructor and framing business owner, his wife, Lisa, 51, 14-year-old daughter Isabel and Isabel's friend Lucy Walsh, 14, all perished in the fiery crash Saturday near Armonk.
"I'm miserable," said the pilot's distraught father, William, 85, a former aviation engineer.
"He was my friend, not only a son."
Isabel, who had just turned 14 just days ago, was a bright, vivacious student who loved the flying trapeze.
"She a very intelligent young lady," her grandfather told DNAinfo.
"She worked the trapeze and she was a ballerina. She was a very happy young lady."
The family, who lived in a doorman building on W. 57th Street, near Tenth Avenue, had been planning to go from Westchester to Montauk to get out of the city and show Walsh, who was visiting from Ohio, the East End of Long Island.
"Their daughter had a friend sleeping over, so they thought they would treat her to a lunch away from New York," said the pilot's father.
The plane had taken off from Westchester County Airport in White Plains at around 1 p.m., but Weiner notified the tower shortly afterwards that he had to come back.
"No reason was stated," said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Holly Baker.
"The plane went down short of runway 16."
The single propeller Cessna 210, then plummeted to the ground, crashing into the woods near the Kensico Reservoir on city's Department of Environmental Protection property.
The cause of the crash was under investigation, the FAA said.
William Weiner said that his family often flew together, traveling to the East End, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, especially during the summertime.
"We had a very close family," he said. "If someone hurt their thumb, everyone felt it."
Keith Weiner's wife was also a pilot and his daughter, who attended private school in Lower Manhattan, gave indications that she wanted to fly as well.
"She liked to sit in the right [passenger] seat," said the grandfather. "That was a sign she would have [learned to fly] when she turned 15 or 16."
Keith Weiner had been flying for decades.
"He was a very good pilot," his father told DNAinfo. "He had a couple of mishaps but nobody was hurt.
"I paid for his flying lessons. I gave them to him as a present for his 16th birthday."
Weiner was so experienced, in fact, that he had once saved his wife while flying in Massachusetts.
"He lost his engine, but he was able to get enough altitude to get the plane back down to Martha's Vineyard," recalled his father.
"[His wife] was starting to panic so he said, 'Get out the manual and see what we have to do to land in water," he added.
"The tower thought he had a twin engine plane because he was so calm."
Weiner and his dad, who was originally from The Bronx, owned a framing business in Nyack and an art gallery in Piermont, NY. The gallery, Galerie CAVU, was named for the aviation acronym that stands for for "ceiling and visibility unlimited."
The father and son team were very close.
"Every morning he used to call me up," he said. "He took care of me very well."
In a tragic twist, William Weiner had just received an emotional Father's Day card from his son on the day that he died.
"He expressed his love for me and said that I was the best engineer he had ever worked with," said William, who choked up during the conversation.
"I received it in my mailbox at the time he was being burned."
Neighbors were devastated at the loss.
"It's so sad," Amina B. said of the Weiners. "I see them all the time. They're always together. You never think a beautiful family will die together."
And doorman Candido Elejalde, 56, gushed about the family.
Isabel, he said, was very into her schoolwork, learning Spanish and set to start high school in September.
"She's always studying. She was always smiling. She would come and give me a hug sometimes."
Her mother, he said, was "very caring," bringing him food.
"They're always happy and very nice," he said of the family. "They're one of the best tenants in the buidling."