The New York Yankees are reeling from the loss of one of their newest teammates who was killed when his private plane crashed into a residential building on Manhattan's Upper East Side this afternoon.
Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle, who had just recently earned his pilot's license, was on board the small aircraft that crashed into a building at 524 E. 72nd Street shortly before 3 p.m. He was flying himself home to California, just days after the Yankees were eliminated from their playoffs, ending their season.
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner issued a statement this evening, saying "this is a terrible and shocking tragedy that has stunned the entire Yankees organization. I offer my deep condolences and prayers to his wife, Melanie, and son, Christopher, on their enormous loss."
In an afternoon press briefing, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said a flight instructor and a student pilot with about 75 hours of flight experience were on board the plane and were both killed when the private plane slammed into the high-rise Belaire Building between York Avenue and the FDR, igniting a fire and sending debris plunging onto the street below.
The FAA and the NTSB confirmed that the Cirrus 20 aircraft was registered to Lidle, and there were reports that his passport was found at the scene. The mayor would not confirm who was killed in the crash because authorities have been unable to reach the next of kin. ESPN reports that Lidle's wife Melanie was scheduled to be on a commercial flight back to Los Angeles today.
Lidle, 34, started his Major League career with the Mets. He was recently acquired by the Yankees from the Philadelphia Phillies with Bobby Abreu at the trade deadline. He pitched in Game 4 against Detroit on Saturday. The right-hander leaves behind a wife and a six-year-old son.
Bloomberg said the plane left Teterboro Airport in Bergen County, New Jersey at 2:30 p.m., circling the Statue of Liberty before heading up the East River. Air traffic control lost contact with the plane around the Queensboro Bridge. It is unclear why the plane veered towards 72nd Street. The plane issued a distress call shortly before the crash.
Now that the FAA has mandated that certain aircraft be in contact with Air Traffic Control, while in the East River area, does anyone know what frequency they would use? I assume they would be in contact with LaGuardia tower and my thoughts are that one of LGA's Class B frequencies would be used. Anybody have any information?