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The two girls who were killed at Coney Island attended the high school I teach at. I had taken them both on retreats, had one for several classes. Danielle was like a daughter to me in many ways. She told me everything about her life, talked to me about any problems she had. She was an amazing girl, just like I'd want any of my kids to be. She had a huge heart and an awesome sense of humor.

JB and Danielle left behind two girls that were just like sisters. They're making it, but they're struggling terribly. We thank God Melissa was afraid of heights and got off the plane. We thank God that Katie qualified for the state track tournament and was with us in Charleston instead of on that plane.

I don't understand why these things happen.
 

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I'm so sorry. I caught a bit of the story on the news, but I didn't know the passengers were so young. My prayers go to their family and friends. It is really hard to understand why somethings happen. I'm so sorry for your loss
 

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:eek: So sad!
Do you have a link to the story? I haven't heard about that here...
 

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yeah so they make you log in for the full story.

May 22, 2005 -- A small plane trailing black smoke crashed onto the beach in Coney Island yesterday, killing four and horrifying beachgoers who saw the victims' terror-stricken faces during the fatal plunge.
An experienced local pilot, Endrew Allen, 34, of Jamaica, Queens, who a police source said flew over his girlfriend's home to impress her moments before the crash, was among the dead, cops said.

The other three on board were sightseers Courtney Block, 39; his daughter, Danielle Block, 18, both of Benwood, W.Va.; and her friend, Jo-Beth Marie Gross, 18, of nearby McMechen, W.Va.

The passengers were in town for the weekend visiting relatives in New Jersey and hired the plane for a half-hour tour over the city's skyline, said Courtney Block's brother Army Spc. Douglas Block.

Originally a third teenage girl, Melissa McCulley, was on board the flight, but got airsick, and the plane turned around, said Rene Roy, the principal of the West Virginia high school the three attended.

The elder Block then got on board the fateful flight in her place, said the educator, who had spoken to a family member of one of the victims.

At 1:45 p.m., the single-engine Cessna 172 Skyhawk, tragically plunged into the sand at West 16th Street near the Coney Island boardwalk — as scores of beachgoers and boardwalk strollers looked on in horror.



The throng of sun seekers on the famous beach were shaken by the experience, but no one on the ground was injured.

The plane took off from Linden Airport in New Jersey at 1 p.m.

According to Luke Schiaba, a senior air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, Allen had between 1,800 and 1,900 hours of flight experience.

The plane's route, parallel to the beach, is a popular one for flight students and it also took the instructor over his girlfriend's house, sources said.

The girlfriend, Keturah Ponce, 23, was sleeping when the plane flew near her beachside apartment. She ran down to the beach when awoken by her mother, who heard the crash.

"She's doing very badly right now," her mother Josephine Ponce said. "She's not good."

The woman, a devout Jew, said Allen came and spent Passover with the family for the past two years, although he did not share the faith.

"You don't meet spirits like that today," she said.

Witnesses said the Cessna appeared to begin experiencing trouble over Keyspan Park, the baseball stadium for the minor-league Brooklyn Cyclones, which is a short distance from Ponce's home.

Beachcombers and boardwalk strollers said they heard the engine sputter and stall, then start again as the plane began descending toward the ocean.

The Cessna started making circles as it flew only about 100 feet above land, coughing black trails of smoke.

At first, many thought the pilot was performing a foolish stunt. But they soon realized something was horribly wrong.

"The plane flew over my head," said Kelon Edgehill, 21, an employee at Deno's Amusement Park. "I said, 'It's too low. It's going to crash.' "

Abedemi Akinwande, 39, said the plane was so low he could see the frantic pilot and passengers through the windows.

"I was able to see the people's expressions in the plane," he said. "They looked like they were panicking. One of them was grabbing his head and the other one was struggling with something."

Edgehill and others said the plane swerved towards the ocean in what appeared to be a desperate attempt to land in water. The pilot then seemed to make a final, frenzied push to gain altitude.

"It started going up," said Roberto Paredes, 10. "Then it stopped [for] a . . . second. Then it went down fast."

"He was getting lower and lower," said Kevin Kelly, 42. "Then he just nose-dived in the sand. There was blood all over the place."

The right side of the plane was torn off, one wing was ripped away and part of the tail also fell off from the impact of the crash — just 50 feet from the water.

Beachgoers rushed to aid the victims.

Joshua McCabe, 33, a registered nurse, said he found a slight pulse on a bloodied woman in the back seat. But after only about 30 seconds, she was dead, he said.

A man in the front seat also had a slight pulse, witnesses said, but it, too, soon faded.

A spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, Holly Baker, said there was no distress signal and the plane had not been in contact with air-traffic control — but wasn't required to be.

In tiny McMechen, classmates and relatives of the two girls gathered at Bishop Donahue HS, hugging and weeping when they heard the news.

Gross, a standout softball pitcher, lost her mother to cancer several years ago, and her father was so distraught, he had to be hospitalized, the Wheeling News Register reported.

Brock's brother, Douglas, who lives in Brooklyn, said Courtney worked for UPS and described Danielle as "very, very studious" with a high grade-point average.





From our local news:

The plane went down around 2:00 Saturday afternoon. A sightseeing plane was taking three people from the Ohio Valley on a tour when the plane crashed on the beach. Two of the passengers were Danielle Block and Jo-Beth Gross, both were seniors at Bishop Donahue High School. The two girls were scheduled to graduate this Tuesday. Courtney Block, Danielle's father, was also killed in the crash. The school principal describes the students; "They were happy, outgoing, well-balanced, well-behaved, well brought up, the ideal of a teenager today. They were involved in service, involved in sports academically, they were at the top of their class, both had scholarships to go to colleges." Danielle was planning on attending Wheeling Jesuit University and Jo-Beth was on her way to Bethany college. At the time of the crash there were many people on the beach, but no one on the group was injured. Investigators aren't sure what caused the plane to go down
 

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A horrible tragedy! I'm so sorry for them, their families, and you and yours. Thank God that Melissa didn't go. I will keep you all in my thoughts.
 

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I'm so sorry. From what I read, it sounds like Heaven got a few more angels today. I pray for the families and friends left behind.
 

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Originally posted by Boom Boom's Mom@May 22 2005, 07:35 PM
The two girls who were killed at Coney Island attended the high school I teach at.  I had taken them both on retreats, had one for several classes.  Danielle was like a daughter to me in many ways.  She told me everything about her life, talked to me about any problems she had.  She was an amazing girl, just like I'd want any of my kids to be.  She had a huge heart and an awesome sense of humor. 

JB and Danielle left behind two girls that were just like sisters.  They're making it, but they're struggling terribly.  We thank God Melissa was afraid of heights and got off the plane.  We thank God that Katie qualified for the state track tournament and was with us in Charleston instead of on that plane. 

I don't understand why these things happen.
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Thanks for posting the link to the story...
I feel for the two left behind...they will go through a terrible adjustment period in which they will ask themselves "why"? Not only why did it happen, but why did it NOT happen to me?!

I had six friends killed in an accident coming home from church camp one year. I had been on the van with them GOING to the camp, but had to take my college placement tests, so didn't ride back with them. I know WHERE I would have been sitting, and I would have surely been killed also. I cried and wondered constantly if I HAD been with them, if I would have been the difference that made them 30 seconds later down that highway and avoided that accident...ya know? I went through lots of guilt and anguish. I wondered why God thought I was any better than them? Why some on the van lived and some did not? Why church camp kids-one had gotten saved that week? Why the one that was such a good friend of mine, she was going to be my room-mate at college the next January? Lots of selfish questions I guess, but I was 18...It was really hard...and I had a hard time dealing with it.

After many months and years of tears and questioning...through prayer and counsel with pastors I finally came to the conclusion that it is all part of God's great plan...I don't know that it made it all that much better, just easier to cope. I leaned on my faith and knowing that God had plans for my life, and one day I would understand.

I still think about them constantly and run through the memories of that week. It will be 14 years this summer, and yet many of the memories of the prior week, and the night that I learned of the wreck are etched so clearly in my mind that I can see them like it was yesterday. It has become a part of who I am today...does that make sense?

Anyway, because of my personal experience, my thoughts and prayers go out to all the family, friends, teachers, etc....but especially go out to Melissa and Katie.
 

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oh man.. thats sooo sad.
I cant take hearing those things... soo tragic. I think thats part of the reason i'm soo scared of planes. It's very rare to survive a plane crash.. so my thought process is that if something happens to the plane.. i'm going to die.. i dont even have a slight hope of surviving. In a car I think I at least have a better chance of surviving. I'm always told that planes are safer than cars but I dunno. I just know that its a horrible horrible thing to hear. That one article is soo graphic with their descriptions.
 

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Originally posted by Kodie@May 23 2005, 08:33 AM
oh man.. thats sooo sad.
  I cant take hearing those things... soo tragic.  I think thats part of the reason i'm soo scared of planes.  It's very rare to survive a plane crash.. so my thought process is that if something happens to the plane.. i'm going to die.. i dont even have a slight hope of surviving.  In a car I think I at least have a better chance of surviving.  I'm always told that planes are safer than cars but I dunno.  I just know that its a horrible horrible thing to hear.  That one article is soo graphic with their descriptions. 
 
 

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I think they say that air travel is safer only because of the law of statistics or something like that. So many people on a plane/so many flights leaving daily...etc. I guess if you count how many planes crash vs. how many cars wreck around the world daily, it probably comes out MUCH safer to fly...but like you said, the chances of surviving if you DO crash are much less in a plane.
 
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