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Investigators search high-rise for clues

Compiled from staff and wire reports
Published October 13, 2006

NEW YORK - Investigators and workers in hard hats gathered up the scorched pieces of New York Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle's shattered plane at a luxury high-rise Thursday in a floor-by-floor sweep for clues to why the aircraft crashed.

The pitcher and his flight instructor, 26-year-old Tyler Stanger, were killed when their plane slammed into the 40-story condominium tower Wednesday.

Crews recovered the nose, wings, tail and instrument panel of the plane along with a hand-held GPS device as they conducted an exhaustive search of the building - inspecting even terraces and ledges, said National Transportation Safety Board member Debbie Hersman.

Hersman said the single-engine plane was cruising at 112 mph at 700 feet of altitude as it tried to make a U-turn to go south down the East River. It was last seen on radar about a quarter-mile north of the building, in the middle of the turn, at 500 feet.

"Early examination indicates that the propellers were turning" at the time of impact, Hersman said, suggesting the engine was still running.

Hersman also said reports of a distress call from the airplane prior to the crash were incorrect.

Residents began returning to their apartments, one day after the crash engulfed apartments in flames and sent fiery wreckage raining down on the street and sidewalk.

"There's no heat, hot water or gas. It's a little hard to live there, so I don't think too many people are moving back in," said Robin Freedberg, 53, who lives on the 28th floor on the far side of the building from the crash.

Freedberg, a cardiologist whose sister Sydney Freedberg is a reporter for the St. Petersburg Times, said she was allowed back into the building at 5 a.m. Thursday to collect some clothes and a few of her daughter's schoolbooks.

The sidewalk on 72nd Street where parts of the plane landed was blocked off, she said.

"You couldn't go in the front entrance. All I could see was a white tent and lots of big lights," she said. "I was escorted to my apartment by a cop, I think because a couple of floors are still inaccessible."

Times staff writer Sydney Freedberg contributed to this report, which includes information from the New York Times and Associated Press.

[Last modified October 13, 2006, 01:16:33]

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