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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Baseball Star Lidle Killed in Plane Crash

NEW YORK -- A New York Yankees baseball pitcher was presumed killed along with a second person when his small plane crashed into a 50-story skyscraper Wednesday, sending flaming debris down onto sidewalks, authorities said.

Although New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday declined to identify the victims, a law enforcement official in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Corey Lidle was aboard the plane. U.S. Federal Aviation Administration records showed the single-engine plane was registered to the pitcher, who was a new pilot and had repeatedly assured reporters in recent days that flying was safe.

It was not clear who was at the controls when the plane, headed north up the East River, veered off course toward Manhattan and crashed between the condominium tower's 30th and 31st stories, Bloomberg said.

Thick black smoke soared above the city skyline and flames shot out of apartments above the neighborhood as pedestrians dodged falling pieces of burning plane.

Bloomberg said a flight instructor and a student pilot with 75 hours of experience were aboard and killed. The pair had circled the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor before heading uptown. Both bodies were found on the street below, and the plane's engine was found in one of the apartments turned into an inferno by the crash, Bloomberg said. Lidle's passport was found on the street, the federal official said.

"This is a terrible and shocking tragedy that has stunned the entire Yankees organization," Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said in a statement. He offered his condolences to Lidle's wife and son.

Fifteen firefighters, five civilians and one police officer were taken to New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center with injuries from the crash. Two people in an adjoining apartment miraculously escaped injury when the plane crashed into the luxury high-rise.

On Sunday, the day after the Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs, Lidle cleaned out his locker at Yankee Stadium and talked about his interest in flying. He explained to reporters the process of getting a pilot's license, and said he intended to fly back to California in several days and planned to make a few stops.

Large crowds gathered at the crash scene, with many people in tears and others trying to reach loved ones by cell phone. Rain started pouring at the scene at around 4 p.m., and people gazed up at the smoke and fire as they covered their heads with plastic bags.

Christine Monaco, a New York spokeswoman for the FBI, said there was no indication of terrorism.

The crash struck fear in a city devastated by the attacks of Sept. 11 five years ago. Witnesses said sirens echoed across the east side of Manhattan as emergency workers rushed to the scene.

The crash triggered a loud bang. Broken glass and debris was strewn across the neighborhood.

Fighter planes were scrambled over several cities across the United States in the aftermath of the crash, despite the quick assurances that it was nothing more than an accident.