Yankees Pitcher Cory Lidle Dies in Plane Crash

The baseball player's aircraft slammed into a New York City building

New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle died after a small aircraft he owned crashed into a high-rise building on the east side of Manhattan on Wednesday afternoon.

George Steinbrenner, who owns the baseball club, confirmed Lidle’s death and offered condolences the player’s family.

“This is a terrible and shocking tragedy that has stunned the entire Yankees organization. I offer my deepest condolences and prayers to his wife Melanie and son Christopher on their enormous loss,” Steinbrenner said in a statement issued through his publicity officer.

Lidle’s passport was found in the street below the crash. Federal Aviation Administration records also show that the plane was registered to the athlete, who got his pilot’s license earlier this year during the off-season.

Also killed, according to reports, was California-based flight instructor Tyler Stanger, 26. It is uncertain who was piloting the aircraft.

Lidle, 34, who had been a major league pitcher for nine years, recently bought a four-seat airplane for $187,000, the New York Times reported in September.

During an interview with the paper, the baseball player brushed off safety concerns about his new hobby. “The whole plane has a parachute on it,” Lidle said. “Ninety-nine percent of pilots that go up never have engine failure, and the 1 percent that do usually land it. But if you’re up in the air and something goes wrong, you pull that parachute, and the whole plane goes down slowly.”

A law enforcement official told the Associated Press that the plane had issued a distress call before the crash. The official said it was unknown whether Lidle was at the controls.

The small private plane took off at 2:30 p.m. and circled the Statue of Liberty, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a press conference Wednesday evening. He said air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane as it neared the 59th Street Bridge. The plane crashed into the 20th floor of The Belaire, a residential building on 72nd street, around 2:42 p.m.

Rob Miranda was doing renovations on the 46th floor of the building when he looked out the window and noticed a small plane about 100 feet above him. “It didn’t sound right,” he tells PEOPLE. “It was coming up and kind of curving. … It seemed like (the pilot) was making a sharp turn like he was out of control.”

Although he didn’t see the plane actually hit the building, Miranda says, “I saw a plume of smoke. The building didn’t shake, but you heard it.”

This is not the first time a New York Yankee has died in a private plane crash. In 1979 Thurman Munson, who was the team’s captain, was killed in the crash of a plane he was flying.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said in a statement Wednesday, “I am deeply saddened by this tragic event and I ask everyone to keep Cory, his family and all those affected by this tragedy in your prayers.”

And current Yankees captain Derek Jeter issued a statement of sympathy to his teammate’s family. “I am shocked by this devastating news,” he said. “Spending the last few months as Cory s teammate, I came to know him as a great man.”

Related Articles