The National Transportation Safety Board has concluded its investigation into the cause of the airplane crash that killed Ben and Bonnie Krupinski and two others in June 2018.
The investigation had long focused on the twin-engine plane flying into a thunderstorm that was crossing the South Fork at the time of the crash, and the final report, released by the federal agency this week, settles on the “extreme” conditions of wind and low-visibility that they expect the plane would have encountered off the Amagansett coastline as having been its undoing.
The investigators point to the plane’s low altitude and the likelihood that it would have encountered strong winds, severe turbulence and heavy rains as it tried to fly below the thunderstorm in an effort to reach East Hampton Airport.
The pilot, Jon Dollard of Hampton Bays, had radioed the airport control tower just moments before the crash and said that he was planning to fly beneath the approaching storm and that it did not appear to be a threat.
“It is likely that the pilot encountered gusting winds, turbulence, restricted visibility in heavy rain, and low cloud ceilings in the vicinity of the accident site and experienced an in-flight loss of control at low altitude,” the conclusions in the final report read. “Such conditions are conducive to the development of spatial disorientation; however, the reason for the pilot’s loss of control could not be determined based on the available information.”
The plane disappeared from radar about two miles off Amagansett. The wreckage was found just offshore of Atlantic Beach.
A second plane owned by the Krupinskis — two of East Hampton’s largest land owners and employers, whose philanthropy and business dealings had woven them into nearly every sector of the community — that had been traveling in tandem from Rhode Island, skirted the storm to the south and landed safely at the airport.
The crash killed Mr. Dollard, the Krupinskis and their 22-year old grandson, William Maerov.