MECHANICSBURG, Pa. — One of Western New York's most prominent developers has been killed in a helicopter crash in Central Pennsylvania.
Authorities tell 7 Eyewitness News 58-year-old Mark Croce and 63-year-old Michael Capriotto, both of Orchard Park, were flying from Washington, D.C. to Buffalo when the chopper Croce was piloting crashed into the yard of a home in Mechanicsburg, Pennslyvania, around 8:30 p.m. Thursday.
Both the NTSB and the FAA are investigating the cause of the crash.
"We're just beginning. We have a long way to go to understand what occurred," Senior Air Safety Investigator with the NTSB, Tim Monville, said.
When first on scene, the NTSB met with the chief of police and were provided photographs and 911 calls. The NTSB has already requested data including traffic control, audio and radar. Monville said that data is expected within the next two weeks.
"That'll help us understand the picture of the flight," Monville said.
Over the past decade, Croce invested millions of dollars in the renovation and rehabilitation of several prominent development projects in Downtown Buffalo, most notably the Curtiss Hotel and Statler City. He also owned the upscale Buffalo Chophouse in the city's theatre district.
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. 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 Poloncarz (@markpoloncarz) January 10, 2020
The ECSO lost a valuable member of our Reserve Scientific Staff last night with the tragic death of Mark Croce.— Erie County Sheriff (@ECSONY1) January 10, 2020
Mark first served on the Reserve Aviation Unit and has served the Erie County Sheriff's Office and this community admirably.
This is a loss for our community.
Croce purchased the then-dilapidated and largely vacant Statler Towers from the city of Buffalo in 2011, paying $200,000 plus all back taxes and interest accrued while he building sat in bankruptcy.
Since then, he restored three of the historic building's 19 floors. Work began last summer on a $3 million project to restore the exterior of the downtown landmark.
Michael Capriotto owned Bauer Automotive and Pedego Buffalo Electric Bike Store, both of Orchard Park. He was heavily involved in local politics and government and was president of the Woodlawn Cemetery Association.
Buffalo Development Corporation, the parent company for Croce's various businesses, released a statement Friday, thanking the public for their condolences and ensuring their employees that his hospitality and development businesses "will continue without interruption."