QUEENS — Authorities sweeping a Long Island harbor for a Queens man whose plane went down late Sunday night said their efforts are now a recovery, not a rescue, mission.
The Coast Guard and local harbormasters joined Suffolk police divers and aerial units to search Long Island's Setauket Harbor on Tuesday, following days of searching for Gerson Salmon-Negron, 25, whose plane had to make an emergency landing Saturday night, according to a Suffolk County Police spokeswoman.
Salmon-Negron was aboard a Piper PA 28 airplane that had taken off from Fitchburg, Massachusetts, en route to Farmingdale, Long Island, when it started experiencing some problems about 11 p.m. Saturday, according to Suffolk County Police officials.
Student pilot, Austricio Ramirez, 25, had been at the controls during the flight, but handed them over to his instructor, Nelson Gomez, 36, police said.
At some point, the person behind the controls radioed in that the plane was having engine problems, Federal Aviation Administration officials said. The aircraft, which is made by Piper Aircraft and frequently used to teach flying, has a wingspan of 35 feet and is 24 feet long, according to its website.
As Gomez attempted to make an emergency landing in the harbor less than a mile from shore, the four men on board jumped out of the plane and into the water, officials said.
Suffolk police managed to rescue three of those aboard, including Ramirez, of The Bronx, Gomez and 25-year-old Wady Perez, both of whom are from Queens, police said.
But Salmon-Negron, of Queens, was still missing, police said.
The rescued men were treated at Stony Brook University Hospital and released, officials said.
Federal investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board will determine what problems the plane was having, according to a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman who said she didn't have further information.
NTSB and Coast Guard officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.