Rixford, PA Private Plane Crash, Nov 2000


Rixford, Pa. (AP) - A small plane crashed in the woods in northwestern Pennsylvania, killing three people identified by a relative as a family returning to their home in Atlanta after a Thanksgiving visit to New York.
The single-engine plane took off from Bradford soon after 11 a.m. Sunday near the Pennsylvania-New York state line, about 70 miles east of Erie. It crashed a few minutes later in Otto Township near Rixford, about eight miles north of the airport.
None of the three occupants survived. The cause of the crash was under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, said trooper David Smith of the state police Kane barracks.
Authorities had yet to officially release the names of the victims early Monday because police said they needed dental records for identification.
But Josephine Pavel of Olean, N.Y.
confirmed early Monday that her daughter, son-in-law and grandson -
JO ELLEN and PETER SANDEK and their son, KYLE, all of Atlanta - are believed to have been killed in the crash.
Pavel said her daughter's driver's license and KYLE'S school papers were found in the wreckage and the wrecked plane was like the one the SANDEKS flew.
She said the SANDEKS, both 49, and KYLE, 13, had been in Olean visiting her and her husband, George Pavel, since Wednesday. The SANDEKS left to return to Atlanta on Sunday, with PETER SANDEK piloting the four-seat plane.
"They were supposed to go back Saturday, but he checked things out and they didn't look very good going all the way through, so he thought he'd wait until Sunday," Pavel said. "They took off fine, we saw them."
"We didn't know anything about it
(the crash) until we listened to the news on TV. We saw the plane, and they said three people were in it. I said, 'My God, that looks like their plane.'"
She said she called WGRZ-TV in Buffalo seeking more information, which reporters provided to her Sunday evening.
Jim Peters, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said early Monday that the plane was headed for Charleston, W.V., but he didn't know if that was a final destination.
Peters said that shortly after take-off, the pilot told an FAA tracking facility in Cleveland that he needed to return to the Bradford Airport. The Cleveland facility than lost contact with the four-seat aircraft manufactured by Money Aircraft Corp. before it crashed.
George Pavel said the family has been asked to help obtain dental records from the SANDEKS' dentist and the bodies were being taken to Erie for an autopsy and official identification.
Josephine Pavel said PETER and JO ELLEN SANDEK were both recently retired from BellSouth and their son attended Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic School in Atlanta.
JO ELLEN SANDEK grew up in Olean and her husband was originally from Germany, Josephine Pavel said.

Tyrone Daily Herald Pennsylvania 2000-11-27