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Plane Crash Victims Identified as Florida Couple With Ties to Canton

Donald Derocher, 73, and Josephine Derocher, 74, were killed Monday night when their small plane crashed on Onion Mountain.

[Updated] Nov. 21 at 12:38 p.m. 

On Wednesday, officials will continue to investigate the scene of a double fatal plane crash in Canton, Jay Neylon, Air Safety Investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, said Tuesday evening. 

The NTSB is now leading the investigation and was on Onion Mountain Tuesday with the Federal Aviation Association, town of Canton volunteer Fire and EMS Department and state and local police, officials said. 

Earlier Tuesday, Canton Police identified the two victims of a small plane crash on Monday night as Donald Derocher, 73, and Josephine Derocher, 74.

Tuesday morning, police said they were one-time Connecticut residents who were flying in from out-of-state. The preliminary FAA report on the crash said the couple lived in Live Oak, Florida.

On Wednesday afternoon, a representative from the Chief Medical Examiner's Office in Farmington said the cause of death for both was ruled multiple blunt trauma and the "manner" ruled accidental. Asked if anything medical was found, she stated "not that we saw."  

The couple has family in Canton, according to Canton Police Chief Christopher Arciero, who also confirmed Tuesday evening that the couple lived in Windsor Locks for many years before moving to Florida.

Bob Derocher of Conventry told WFSB that his brother and sister-in-law were coming back for his father's funeral. Bob Derocher also told the news crew that his brother was an excellent pilot and generous individual. 

Earlier in the day officials said the couple had once lived in Canton but Arciero said that may not have been the case. 

Indications are the couple was most recently in North Carolina with family and then flew to Pennsylvania and later left there to fly to Simsbury, Arciero said.

Simsbury Airport manager Bill Thomas said he had no knowledge of the couple's intention to land at the airport but that doesn't rule out the possibility.

"It's a public airport. Anyone can land here," Thomas said.

according to Canton police. The FAA said the plane was a 1965 Piper, fixed-wing single-engine plane owned by Donald Derocher, who was the pilot.

Canton police said the incident was reported at approximately 8 p.m. after Bradley International Airport Traffic Control reported they lost radar contact with the plane, according to a Canton Police press release.

"I got a call from the traffic control people at [Bradley International Airport] saying that a plane went off the radar. They had asked me if it had landed at Simsbury Airport," Thomas said.

Aided by a state helicopter Monday night, numerous crews from the town of Canton Volunteer Fire and EMS Department searched the woods off of Red Fox Run while crews in Simsbury were searching off Quorn Hunt Road. 

The wreckage was found with the assistance of a state police helicopter.

On the Canton side, firefighters largely blazed a new path into the woods and had to cut down some trees and navigate moss-covered rocks. Some old logging roads cut through the area but much of the trail was through unmarked areas. Police were also on scene. 

Canton volunteer firefighters/EMTs spent a long, cold night Monday into the early morning hours Tuesday, locating then extricating the two victims of a single engine airplane that crashed on Onion Mountain. 

While firefighters/EMTs searched the Mountain on foot, state police helicopter Trooper 1, searched overhead. Once Trooper 1 located the wreckage, they guided the ground crews to it. The wreckage was found about a 30-minute hike up the Mountain. 

Canton firefighters /EMTs stayed into the night to extricate the victims from the wreckage and remove them from the woods and into the Medical Examiner's van, waiting at the base of the Mountain.

"They actually had to cut their way through the trees and brush," Canton Police Capt. Lawrence Terra said. "They did a good job." 

The plane was located and initially LifeStar was called but soon canceled. 

According to the FAA, the pilot was "planning to land at Simsbury."  

Thomas did not want to speculate as to what could have caused the crash but did say that crashes are rarely caused by mechanical issues.

"Mechanical errors are possible but much less likely than pilot error," Thomas said.

Neylon said officials will be on the scene for another day or two before heading back to Washington D.C. While a limited report will come out in 10 days and a facts paper in six months, the information will then go to the board and it will likely be a year before the board issues a probable cause, he added. 

jackie carmoega November 21, 2012 at 01:10 PM
My heartfelt sympathy to the family! My prayers of comfort are being lifted up.
Daniel November 21, 2012 at 08:24 PM
myself and the rodriguez family have had the privilegde to met don. hes given us the opportunity to fly with him , which was a amazing exprience. don influenced me and reveal my future to take aviation as a career that i want to pursue in my life. if i never met don and had the exprience i had ,i would still probably not know what i want for my future . i never had the chance to thank don on what great enlightment he had on me and how much more i wanted to learn from him. don has a great impact on what is to come in my life and career . I am very Bless and Greatfull to have met Don and Joecy . Don came to my aid when I began my job as a machinist with tools and tips to help me prosper. I still admire the craftsmanship behind the hand made tools . Don and Joecy will always be part of my family specially krissy our future pilot. Our prayers are with the Family
Evan Robert November 21, 2012 at 11:27 PM
The incident was not reported until 8PM. Judy..I must know if you heard the crash, did you call it in at 6:20? If not...why?

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