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Two Clarkson University students among those killed in Lake Placid plane crash

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NORTH ELBA — Two Clarkson University graduate students were among three people killed in a small plane crash near Lake Placid on Saturday morning.

Kathleen Kafka, a physical therapy graduate student from Rock Springs, Wyo., and Reed Phillips, a physical therapy graduate student from Midland, Mich., were passengers on the plane piloted by Ms. Kafka’s father, of Vienna, W.Va., when it went down near the Lake Placid Airport.

Lake Placid Municipal Airport manager Steve Short said preliminary information showed the plane crashed after its first attempt at landing was thwarted by a plane approaching from the opposite direction, the Associated Press reported.

Per protocol, both planes turned away from each other to circle and attempt the landing again, Mr. Short told the AP.

He said the pilot of the single-engine Mooney M20 deployed the plane’s flaps but never retracted them before making the second approach, inhibiting its ability to fully circle and attempt another landing.

The plane lost power and crashed on a farm about two thirds of a mile from the runway, he said.

State police said the plane, registered to West Virginia, burst into flames on impact around 10:40 a.m.

Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were en route to the site. A coroner was also on scene.

Mr. Short said that since the plane was flying under 18,000 feet, the pilot was not required to submit a flight plan. He said the winds were calm and it was unlikely weather played a role in the accident.

The M20, a favorite of recreational and professional pilots, has been involved in more than 2,700 accidents and incidents since the model was introduced in the 1950s, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Of those, more than 600 have been fatal — including four crashes this year that killed eight people and seven crashes in 2013 that killed 14 people.

Clarkson University President Anthony G. Collins said in a statement released by the university Sunday that he was “deeply saddened” upon hearing the news.

“Our condolences go out to their family, friends, faculty and classmates,” Mr. Collins said.

University staff will be reaching out to families, he said. The University said counseling center staff is available for students, faculty and staff.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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