2 New Yorkers aboard helicopter die in Pennsylvania crash

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MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Two upstate New York business men aboard a helicopter were killed when the aircraft crashed in a Pennsylvania backyard, authorities said.

No one on the ground was injured in the Thursday night crash, Cumberland County spokesman John Bruetsch told news outlets.

The helicopter's pilot, Mark D. Croce, 58, and a passenger, Michael Capriotto, 63, were killed, the county coroner's office said. The helicopter was headed at the time from Washington, D.C., to Buffalo, New York.

Croce was a high-profile developer and restaurateur in Buffalo, where Mayor Byron Brown was among several elected officials to praise his impact Friday morning. Croce bought and redeveloped two architecturally significant but crumbling downtown buildings, transforming one into the Statler City event venue and the other into the luxury Curtiss Hotel. He also owned the Buffalo Chophouse restaurant.

“Mark was part of our resurgence, adding jobs & creating destinations that have brought visitors to #Buffalo,” Brown said in a tweet Friday morning.

U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, in a tweet, called Croce “a longtime friend & as big a booster of Buffalo as there ever was. ”

“Our hearts go out to Mark’s loving wife Jessica & their children as they deal with this incomprehensible tragedy,” Higgins wrote.

Capriotto was a former trustee in the village of Orchard Park, the Buffalo suburb where both men lived.

Pictures and video of the crash site from news outlets show a residential neighborhood that's part of Silver Spring Township, near Mechanicsburg. The helicopter crashed behind a residence where people were home at the time, Bruetsch said, and there was a large debris field. The home wasn't damaged.

The helicopter wasn't medical, Bruetsch said, but no further details regarding its provenance were immediately available.

The cause of the crash wasn't immediately clear. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were to investigate, Bruetsch said.

Bruetsch said the investigation would be a “long, drawn-out process.”

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