Mark Croce, a prominent developer and restaurateur, and Orchard Park businessman Michael Capriotto were killed in a helicopter crash in central Pennsylvania on Thursday night.
Here's what we know so far about the crash and its victims:
• The helicopter was new; records show Croce's Robinson R66 Turbine helicopter was both built and purchased in 2019. The Robinson R66 can carry up to five passengers and travel up to 350 miles without refueling, according to information on the manufacturer's website.
• There are questions about the safety of some of Robinson's products. A 2018 Los Angeles Times investigation found that the Robinson R44s were involved in 42 deadly crashes between 2006 and 2016, more than any other commercial helicopter. Andthe R66 – the model Croce flew – has also been involved in several fatal crashes that have produced lawsuits.
• Croce was piloting the helicopter, which left Martin State Airport, 10 miles east of downtown Baltimore, at 7:59 p.m. Thursday, according to flight tracking website Flightradar24.com. The radar tracker shows the flight ending near Harrisburg, Pa. Officials said the helicopter was headed to Buffalo when it crashed.
• Pilot Joseph DeMarco Sr. and other friends said Croce and Capriotto were returning from a trip to check out gyroplanes because Croce was interested in buying one. "“Mark was all excited and had shown me pictures of the gyroplane he had test-flown previously. He was explaining how safe they were. He said if you lose the engine on a gyroplane, it will still glide. He said it is much safer than a helicopter. It’s just crazy the conversation we had, given what happened,” DeMarco said.
No distress call from helicopter, official says as probe of crash begins: The wreckage of the helicopter was moved to a secure location and witnesses were interviewed as the National Transportation Safety Board began its investigation into the cause of the crash, a process that can take a year or longer. An NTSB spokesman did say Saturday there was no distress call from the helicopter and that some preliminary results could be released later this week.
Mark Croce, Michael Capriotto killed in helicopter crash in Pennsylvania Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, along with the Pennsylvania county's crash team, headed to the scene Thursday night.
Back from the brink, Mark Croce's Statler goes on as living statement: "The old Statler Hotel on Delaware Avenue will always be associated with Mark Croce, who renamed it 'Statler City,' built a thriving wedding and event operation on the lower floors and all but dragged the 19-story landmark away from the brink," writes Sean Kirst.
Mark Croce saw potential downtown when few others did: "Croce, who died in a helicopter crash Thursday night in Pennsylvania, was a pioneering developer who not only dared to invest in downtown Buffalo at a time when it was reeling, but who also dared to do it by renovating some of its old, vacant buildings," write David Robinson and Jonathan Epstein.
Obituary: Mark Croce, 58, developer, restaurateur, pilot and larger-than-life personality Among the stories shared by those who knew him best, was his fondness for arriving at work by helicopter, landing on a helipad downtown. “When he’d land, motorists would stop and look and the police would show up and say, ‘You can’t do that.’ He’d say, ‘I can. I cleared it with the tower,’ ” said Dan Welch, who worked as the Chophouse maitre’d for years.
In business, government and civic affairs, Michael Capriotto stood tall: Capriotto was a former Orchard Park village trustee and was president of the Woodlawn Cemetery Association. He also owned Bauer Service, an auto service shop located across from Town Hall that was previously owned by his father and uncle.
Obituary: Michael D. Capriotto, 63, 'always looking to help' :"My husband was always a forward thinker," said Joanne Capriotto, noting that he started his own water jet business designing and cutting tiles for businesses including Mark Croce's Curtiss Hotel, where Capriotto also figured out how to create the rotating bar Croce wanted.
"It was so loud, I couldn't tell where it had hit": Mike and Melissa Brion were putting their two daughters to bed Thursday night when they heard the noise of a passing helicopter in the sky. At first, it sounded normal. Then, according to Mike Brion, the noise got louder.
Western New York leaders mourn Croce as "part of our resurgence": Croce put his stamp on Buffalo with his involvement in several prominent projects.
Mark Croce's businesses and properties in the City of Buffalo: Mark Croce was a prominent property owner and developer in downtown Buffalo, especially along Franklin Street. Here's a look at what he owned.
Croce was flying new Robinson helicopter; safety questions have been raised: The Robinson R66 can carry up to five passengers and travel up to 350 miles without refueling, according to information on the manufacturer's website. There are some questions about the safety of some of Robinson's products.
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