Mystery shrouds US couple's crash off Jamaica
KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) - Search-and-rescue crews searching off Jamaica's northeast coast Saturday were stymied in efforts to solve the mystery of a small, private plane carrying a prominent upstate New York couple taken on a ghostly 1,700-mile journey after the pilot was apparently incapacitated.
Jamaica Coast Guard Commander Antonette Wemyss-Gorman told a news conference Saturday afternoon that debris spotted off the coast Friday evening could no longer be seen.
"We would have to assume it may have sunk," she said.
Maj. Basil Jarrett of the Jamaica Defense Force had said earlier in the day that possible wreckage of the high-performance plane was spotted Friday evening by a military aircraft flying off the island's northeast coast, floating roughly 24 miles (38 kilometers) off the coastal town of Port Antonio.
Leroy Lindsay, director of Jamaica's civil aviation authority, said that the area where the private U.S. plane went down has depths of up to 2,000 meters (more than 6,500 feet). The Jamaican military on Friday had reported finding an oil slick in the general area where the plane vanished.
Lindsay said that once the wreckage is located, French authorities have offered to provide expertise and equipment to bring it up from the ocean depths because the airplane was French-made.
The single-engine turboprop Socata TBM700 was carrying Rochester real estate developer Laurence Glazer and his entrepreneur wife, Jane - both experienced pilots. On Friday, U.S. fighter pilots were launched to shadow the unresponsive aircraft observed the pilot slumped over and its windows frosting over. Officials say the plane slammed into the sea at least 14 miles (22 kilometers) off Jamaica's northeast coastline.
In a Friday statement, the Coast Guard 7th District command center in Miami said three people were reportedly on board the plane. A 154-foot (47-meter) U.S. Coast Guard cutter and a helicopter crew are aiding in the Saturday search off Jamaica.
The plane's pilot had indicated there was a problem and twice asked to descend to a lower altitude before permission was granted by an air traffic controller, according to a recording of the radio conversation. Radio contact with the plane was lost shortly thereafter.
Son Rick Glazer said he could not confirm his parents were killed, adding that "we know so little."
But public officials offered their condolences for a couple described as a linchpin in efforts to rejuvenate an upstate New York city stung by the decline of corporate giants Kodak, Bausch & Lomb and Xerox.
"The Glazers were innovative and generous people who were committed to revitalizing downtown Rochester and making the city they loved a better place for all," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
Laurence Glazer co-founded Buckingham Properties and served as chief executive and managing partner, working alongside two sons. Overall, the company owns more than 60 properties in the Rochester area and in central Florida.
His friend Harold Samoff said Saturday that he and Glazer got started in the real estate business in 1970 with a small apartment building, then went on to acquire and revitalize more and bigger properties on the inner-city periphery, reasoning that "just like blight can spread, improvement can spread, also." Samoff retired about a decade ago.
Glazer went on to more complex projects, such as converting former industrial properties into loft apartments and turning a shuttered hospital into offices. More recently, he bought Xerox Corp.'s Rochester tower - the city's tallest - and Bausch + Lomb's building.
Jane Glazer started QCI Direct, which produces two national retail catalogs selling household and other products. It made Rochester's Top 100 list of fastest growing privately held companies last year, according to its website.