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Flight school identifies PBIA plane crash victims

WEST PALM BEACH — Two brothers were among the four young people killed when their plane crashed Thursday at Palm Beach International Airport, officials at Florida Institute of Technology said this afternoon.

The school, which was mourning the loss of students and instructors in its aviation program, identified the dead as:

*Kristopher Joy Henegar, 22, of Memphis, Tenn., a flight student scheduled to graduate in December, and his brother, Kyle, 26, who lives in Palm Bay, and was a passenger in the aircraft.

*Dheni "Jenny" Teresa Frembling, 26, an instructor on the aircraft and an alum of the university.

*Jordyn Leigh Agostini, 21, a flight instructor from Broomail, Pa., who was scheduled to graduate in December.

An federal investigator said this morning that one of the engines of the plane wasn't working when the Piper PA-44-180 Seminole crashed about 6 p.m.

Ralph "Butch" Wilson, lead investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, said evidence from the fiery crash shows that the left engine wasn't working when the plane plummeted onto the tarmac shortly after takeoff But he declined to say that the disabled engine caused the crash.

"We suspect we know how the impact happened," he said, but did not elaborate.

The plane was from the Florida Institute of Technology's aviation school in Melbourne. School officials said the Piper PA-44-180 Seminole carried two students, a flight instructor and another person affiliated with the university. They said the flight was part of an instructional course.

Wilson, however, said there were three pilots aboard the plane who were "commercially-rated," meaning they had a logged a lot of flight hours. If there was a student pilot, he said, the person was "very advanced."

While the plane did not have a black box, it did have computer chips that would reveal the condition of engine, oil pressure, speed and altitude. Once found, the chips will be sent to the NTSB laboratory in Washington, D.C. for analysis.

Investigators from the FAA, Piper Aircraft and Lycoming Engines are on the tarmac exploring the possible cause of the crash.

Federal records show, planes flown by student pilots at FIT have crashed or caught fire at least seven times since 1994. However, Thursday marked the first incident in which people were hurt, much less killed.

In a March 2009 incident in Sanford, a student pilot landed and was attempting to takeoff again when the engine stopped running. The pilot tried to restart the engine four times before it suddenly caught fire. Federal investigators concluded the the engine exploded "for an undetermined reason."

On Thursday, three of those onboard died immediately when the plane crashed and exploded in flames. The lone survivor died this morning at St. Mary's Medical Center, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

The plane stopped at the airport to clear U.S. Customs after flying in from the Bahamas. After refueling, the plane took off to return to the school in Melbourne but immediately reported to the control tower it was experiencing engine problems, Wilson said.

The plane was on routine flight training exercise, the FIT spokesman Wes Sumner said. The flight is part of the school's international flight curriculum, and was coming from the Bahamas to PBIA to clear customs, Dean of the College of Aeronautics Winston Scott told reporters at a conference in Melbourne late last night.

"We can only assume the student was flying the airplane with the instructor sitting next to the student," said Scott, a former astronaut. "That's typically how it's done."

He does know, however, that the students who reach this part of their training are advanced, and are "pretty far in the curriculum," Scott said.

He also said the school has reviewed the maintenance records of the plane, which was bought in 2007. The plane is equipped with the latest technology, and recently had completed its 100-hour inspection, Scott said, and was "in excellent condition according to our records."

Meanwhile, Anthony J. Catanese, Florida Tech president, said in a note posted on the school's home page: "Florida Tech and FIT Aviation are dealing with great sorrow today.

"We have lost members of our university family," Catanese wrote. "Our thoughts and prayers are with all who have lost loved ones and friends in this tragedy." He is a former president of Florida Atlantic University.

Aviation classes have been canceled today, and students have organized a candlelight vigil on campus at 8 tonight.

Meanwhile, a professor from the school is expected to be on hand at the crash scene in West Palm Beach to meet with any family members who should arrive there, Sumner said.

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