MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The two men killed when a helicopter crashed Thursday evening in Silver Spring Township were both prominent business owners, one credited with sparking a resurgence of downtown Buffalo.
Mark Croce, 58, of Orchard Park, owned a number of businesses in Buffalo, including two restaurants, a wedding venue, and a five-star boutique hotel, Buffalo television station WIVB-TV reports.
“I am deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic passing of my dear friend Mark Croce,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said in a statement. “Mark was a big part of our downtown resurgence, adding jobs for residents and creating destinations that have brought many visitors to the City of Buffalo.”
Croce was piloting the Robinson R66 helicopter when it crashed in a backyard near Irongate Court and Mayberry Lane around 8:30 p.m.
Croce and Michael Capriotto were flying back to Buffalo from Washington, D.C.
“Mark Croce believed in the resurgence and potential of Buffalo when not many others did,” Erie County comptroller Stefan Mychajliw said. “Mark took a chance on developing in Buffalo, and in doing so, he inspired others to follow suit. Mark was the spark, the catalyst, of our downtown core’s rebirth.”
Capriotto, 63, also owned a number of businesses and was known for his devotion to Orchard Park, a suburb southeast of Buffalo.
The town’s mayor, Jo Ann Litwin Clinton, called him a “pillar of the community.”
The cause of the crash is not known. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.
No one on the ground was injured and no homes were damaged.
“There was no fire. It was just rubble in the backyard,” homeowner Mike Brion said. “It landed almost dead center in the yard, didn’t hit the trees, didn’t hit the house at all, didn’t hit the fence, just a pile over here.”