SILVER SPRING TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WIVB) — Two Orchard Park businessmen were killed in a helicopter crash in Pennsylvania Thursday night.
The incident happened around 8:30 p.m. in Silver Spring Township.
The helicopter, which was en route to Buffalo from Washington D.C., was being piloted by 58-year-old Mark Croce. Michael Capriotto, 63, was the passenger.
Mark Croce was a longtime and well-known developer and helicopter pilot. He owned a number of local businesses, such as Buffalo Chophouse, the Curtiss Hotel, Statler City and the building that houses Dinosaur BBQ.
“I am deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic passing of my dear friend Mark Croce…Mark was a big part of our downtown resurgence, adding jobs for residents and creating destinations that have brought many visitors to the City of Buffalo,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said.
Capriotto also owns a number of businesses, including the Kwik Fill in Orchard Park, where his son has served as a cashier for many years.
Orchard Park Mayor Jo Ann Litwin Clinton says Capriotto, who served as a village trustee, was a “pillar of the community.”
More public figures, such as Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, also made statements following the deaths of the businessmen.
“I’m shocked and very saddened to wake up to the sad news of the helicopter crash that took the lives of Mark Croce and Michael Capriotto,” Poloncarz said. “Mark was a very experienced pilot and loved traveling in his helicopter. My deepest condolences go out to both families at this sad time.”
“Mark Croce believed in the resurgence and potential of Buffalo when not many others did,” Mychajliw said. “Mark took a chance on developing in Buffalo, and in doing so, he inspired others to follow suit. Mark was the spark, the catalyst, of our downtown core’s rebirth.”
More reactions to the deaths of Croce and Capriotto can be found here.
The FAA says the aircraft was a Robinson R66 helicopter. When the crash occurred, no one on the ground was injured.
It’s not clear what caused this crash to happen, but the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are looking into it.