Victims identified in plane crash that killed Aspen man
December 8, 2008
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. ” Worst fears became grim reality for the families of the four men ” including an Aspen resident ” involved in a mid-air collision in West Broward, Fla. on Saturday, as rescue crews retrieved the crash victims’ lifeless bodies from the Everglades.
Cloaked in body bags, the four men were loaded onto a gurney, then into vehicles that drove away, presumably to the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Nearby, grieving loved ones wept as the bodies were taken away.
“It’s just sad that four people lost their lives for something they all loved,” said Michael Brown, uncle of Stuart Brown, one of the four men killed. “The family is devastated.”
The names of all four men are now known.
Andrew Marc Rossignol, 21, a certified pilot from the Stuart, Fla. area, was in the air with student Bryan Sax, an Aspen native, when the twin-engine Piper collided with a single-engine Cessna, The Miami Herald has learned.
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Brown, a cautious flight instructor who wanted to fly for Air Jamaica, and Edson Jefferson, a certified pilot from Miramar, were on board the Cessna.
Officials found the bodies in the cockpits of the two planes involved, said Eric Alleyne, an aviation safety inspector with the National Transportation Safety Board.
The recovery came after a morning search by federal, state and local authorities, who took airboats to scour the hard-to-access crash site, which spread into three separate debris fields.
A salvage crew will now return to the debris fields to collect pieces of the small planes, Alleyne said. Some parts will be removed by airboat; others by helicopter.
Alleyne will then reassemble the planes, in an attempt to determine their positions for the collision.
“It’s like putting a jigsaw puzzle together,” he said. “We won’t know anything until we get out there and start picking up the wreckage.”
NTSB’s preliminary report on the crash will be made available to the public in the next seven to 10 business days.
The planes slammed into each other on a clear Saturday afternoon in airspace where South Florida flight instructors routinely take students to practice.
The Cessna 172 took off from North Perry Airport in Pembroke Pines and the Piper PA-44 Seminole began its flight at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
The radar information will be crucial in determining what led to the accident nearly three miles southwest of Everglades Holiday Park.
Investigators said it was too early to speculate on a cause of the crash.
BSO airboats, along with those from the volunteer group Joint Airport Rescue Emergency Deployment, were used to reach the crash site.
Both planes took off about 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
Concerned relatives began calling both flight schools Saturday night when their loved ones failed to return, but by then night had fallen. By 6 a.m. Sunday, state officials in Tallahassee had been notified and the Coast Guard was alerted. Two hours later, the wreckage was spotted from the air.
Brown and Edson Jefferson had taken off in a 1997 single-engine Cessna 172R owned by the Pelican Flight Training Center. They apparently collided with the 1979 twin-engine Piper 44, which was going to a practice area near Opa-locka Airport.
Both planes were flying under visual flight rules, a common practice for that area, meaning pilots need to keep an eye out for each other. Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said neither pilot had filed a flight plan, which was not required.