The two people killed in a small plane that crashed in Westchester County on Thursday have been identified as Cleveland residents who were flying behind a funeral — one of whom sent a chilling final message that read: “I love you guys too . . . We lost engines.”
Passenger Benjamin Chafetz — who died along with pilot Boruch Taub — reportedly sent the message at 5:27 p.m. in a WhatsApp group, apparently thinking he was privately saying goodbye to his wife.
“I love you guys too. I’m sorry for everything I’ve done. … We lost engines. Call and have the community say Tehillim,” The Jewish Chronicle reported, referring to the Hebrew term for the Book of Psalms.
The 47-year-old, single-engine Beechcraft A36 was en route from JFK Airport to Cuyahoga County Airport in Richmond Heights, Ohio, when the pilot reported engine trouble at about 6:15 p.m., the Federal Aviation Administration said.
The plane was about a mile from Westchester County Airport, about 40 miles north of JFK, when Taub reported low oil pressure, FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said.
He radioed air traffic controllers that he was approaching White Plains Airport, but then went silent, according to Westchester police spokesman Kieran O’Leary.
The wreckage was located in the woods behind an office park in Armonk, a hamlet in the town of North Castle, about a mile from the Westchester County Airport.
The two men were returning to Cleveland after attending a funeral, according to dansdeals.com.
Chafetz, who leaves behind a wife, Smadar, and seven children in Beachwood, Ohio, owns web development company 121eCommerce, The Journal News reported.
Taub owned Masterworks Automotive & Transmission in Cleveland Heights, according to the news outlet.
Westchester County Sheriff George Latimer said Friday that the two men were members of the Orthodox Jewish community and that there are “special religious traditions that must be observed when dealing with fatal accidents, WCBS reported.
He said their bodies have already been recovered and sent to Ohio for burial before sunset.
“Mr. Taub and Mr. Chafetz are gone. They leave a hole on the dinner table in their homes. They leave a hole in the lives of their faith communities. And their loss, that’s the main story today,” Latimer said. .
The owner of the plane, who runs Daviation, a company in Willoughby, Ohio, WCBS that both men were experienced pilots.
Chafetz, who was born in Jerusalem to American parents, grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, and Worcester, Massachuetts, according to a February 2022 profile in Ami Magazine in which he described his success as an entrepreneur.
“When I was a child, I was labeled as learning disabled. I was put in a school for children with severe disabilities and special needs. From first to third grade, my classmates were children with Down syndrome and severe autism,” he told the report.
“I remember the first time I was in New York. I was in sixth or seventh grade at the time. I was shocked to see someone on the street wearing a yarmulke. I would shout with excitement every time I saw someone in a yarmulke,” he said.
Chafetz also lived in Monsey, Rockland County, and delivered diamonds to Manhattan’s Diamond District, The Journal News reported.
He eventually launched 121eCommerce, which has developed websites for Fortune 500 companies, with about 70 employees in the US, Argentina and Ukraine and offices in Cleveland and Argentina, Ami Magazine reported.
“I realized there were no web development companies operating with the understanding that they’re not building a website, they’re building a business,” he told Ami.