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Monday, May 26, 2003

Westport Police Marine Unit Responds

Westport Police Marine Unit Responds to Report of Plane Down Off Bridgeport
A Westport Police marine unit responded to a distress call today by the pilot of a twin-engine private plane that went down in the waters of Long Island Sound off Bridgeport.

The AP quoted a Coast Guard spokesman as saying the plane crashed in foggy conditions but the pilot survived and was able to summon help by cell phone.

The pilot, Itai Shoshani, 41, of White Plains, N.Y., set off a flare and was picked up wearing his lifejacket by a passing tugboat. He was taken to Port Jefferson, Long Island, where he was transferred to a hospital.

His injuries were not believed life-threatening.

Authorities said the plane sank in about 80 feet of water.

The Westport boat was among vessels responding to the call for help, but did not play a role in the rescue.

The pilot ran out of fuel and went down in Long Island Sound at 2:27 p.m., about seven miles off the coast near Bridgeport, said Coast Guard Operations Duty Officer John Olsen.

Weather in the area at the time was rainy with gusty winds.

The Westport unit reported shortly before 4 p.m. that it had completed its work and that Stratford Police were handling the incident.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it lost contact with the Cessna 414 after the pilot declared low fuel. The plane was en route from Orlando, Fla., to Westchester County Airport in White Plains. He was advised to try for Sikorsky Airport in Stratford but could not make it.

Update: Shoshani left a Port Jefferson hospital Tuesday after treatment for exposure and hypothermia. A recording of his dramatic cell phone call to the Coast Guard is available on the Hartford Courant Web site.



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