An unresponsive small private plane that lost contact with ground controllers Friday morning during a flight from Rochester, N.Y., to Naples, Fla., has crashed into the sea off the island of Jamaica.
Jamaican Defense Force Civil Military Coordinator Major Basil Jarrett confirmed to Fox News Friday that the plane crashed into the water 14 miles northeast of Port Antonio, Jamaica.
Early reports indicated there were three people on the plane. Jarrett did not provide any information on who was aboard, but said Jamaica has dispatched a rescue team to the crash site.
Jarrett told reporters early Friday evening that an oil slick had been spotted but there is no sign yet of any wreckage. Search and rescue teams are scouring the water for survivors.
A U.S. C-130 aircraft is also flying over the crash site and a U.S. Coast Guard cutter is on the way, according to Guard Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios.
"None of us have found anything at this time," Rios said Friday at about 4:40 p.m. ET.
FlightAware, an aviation tracking website, identified the plane's tail number as N900KN. FAA records show the plane is owned by a company based at the same address as a real estate firm in Rochester. The firm, Buckingham Properties, is owned by developer Larry Glazer, who also is president of the TBM Owners and Pilots Association.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Friday afternoon that Larry and Jane Glazer were among the dead in the crash.
“The Glazers were innovative and generous people who were committed to revitalizing downtown Rochester and making the city they loved a better place for all,” Cuomo said. “I offer my deepest condolences to the Glazers' family and friends during this difficult and trying time."
Rick Glazer said that his parents were both licensed pilots. He told The Associated Press he can't confirm they were killed, adding that "we know so little."
A person who answered the phone at Buckingham Properties declined to comment. According to Buckingham's website, "Larry spends some of his spare time on the ground -- gardening around his house with his wife, Jane; and some in the sky -- flying his plane."
The plane took off at 8:45 a.m. EDT from the Greater Rochester International Airport in New York, according to local officials. Air traffic controllers were last able to contact the pilot of the Socata TBM700, a high performance single-engine turboprop, at 10 a.m. ET, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.
The pilot, who was not identified, had filed a flight plan with the FAA to fly from Rochester to Naples, Florida. F-15 fighter jets were scrambled at 11:30 a.m. EDT and followed the plane until it reached Cuban airspace, when they peeled off, said Preston Schlachter, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command & US Northern Command. FlightAware showed the plane over the Caribbean south of Cuba at about 2 p.m. EDT.
The plane reached the altitude of 25,000 feet, MyFoxTampaBay.com reported, and traveled more than 1,700 miles.
NORAD said the cause of the lost contact could be due to hypoxia. A fighter jet pilot reportedly observed condensation on one of the small plane's windows.
The Air Force and Transportation Security Administration contacted Rochester airport officials about the plane at about 10:45 a.m., according to Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks. The airport referred all inquiries to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The incident is the second time in less than a week that private pilot has become unresponsive during a flight. On Saturday, a pilot lost consciousness and his plane drifted into restricted airspace over the nation's capital. Fighter jets were also launched in that case and stayed with the small aircraft until it ran out of fuel and crashed Saturday into the Atlantic.
Cases of pilots becoming unresponsive while their planes wander the sky are unusual, with probably not much more than a handful of such incidents over the last decade, said aviation safety expert John Goglia. Sometimes the incidents are due to a pilot becoming incapacitated by a heart attack or stroke, but more often the problem is insufficient cabin pressurization that causes the pilot and any passengers to pass out, he said.
Pilots are supposed to check that the cabin pressurization is correctly set before takeoff, but there have been cases where they have forgotten to do that or the pressurization level has been improperly set, said Goglia, a former National Transportation Safety Board member. If cabin pressure drops too low, there won't be enough oxygen per cubic foot in the cabin and any people aboard will fall lose consciousness, he said. In such cases, it's likely that those on board will die from loss of oxygen before the plane runs out of fuel and crashes, he said.
Mechanical problems or a window or fuselage leak can also lead to rapid cabin depressurization. When that happens, the time of useful consciousness a pilot has in which to react is measured in seconds, Goglia said.
In 1999, the pilots of a Learjet carrying professional golfer Payne Stewart from Orlando, Florida, to Texas became unresponsive. The plane took a turn and wander all the way to South Dakota before running out of fuel and crashing into a field west if Aberdeen. Stewart and five others on board were killed. An NTSB investigation blamed the accident on depressurization.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.