Local News

August 16, 2012

Developer dies in plane crash en route to Plattsburgh

CLIFTON PARK — An Albany developer on his way to Plattsburgh died in a single-engine plane crash Wednesday morning.

Walter Uccellini, 67, was a passenger in the six-seat, 1981 Beechcraft when it crashed near Van Vranken Road at about 7:30 a.m., shortly after takeoff from Albany International Airport.

The plane hit the ground then came to rest against a pine tree in a residential area near Crescent Road, according to Clifton Park-based State Police.

Uccellini was pronounced dead at the scene.

The pilot, Jim Quinn, 68, of Westerlo, was taken Albany Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition as of Wednesday afternoon.

No one was injured on the ground, police said.

Uccellini was founder and chairman of the United Group of Companies, the Troy-based business that developed the College Suites student housing at 59 Broad St. in Plattsburgh and other housing facilities.

Quinn serves as the company’s vice chairman.

Brandon Joy, a College Suites employee, said the two men were on their way to visit the facility in Plattsburgh.

“They were coming to check out the property before school starts,” he said. “This is just a real tragedy.”

Police confirmed a trip to Plattsburgh was part of the intended flight plan.

State Police secured the crash site, with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board conducting investigations.

A preliminary finding determined the plane experienced engine trouble, police said, before crashing about 12 miles north of Albany.

The United Group issued the following statement: “Today is a truly stunning and sad day. We have lost our father, brother, husband, grandfather, uncle, friend, partner and leader. Walter Uccellini was a giant in the world, a truly inspirational figure that we will always love and remember with great fondness. We ask that you respect our privacy during this tragic time. We are a solid team at United Group and will find a way to carry on. But today we mourn the loss of a great, great, man.

“Please send thoughts and prayers for Jim Quinn and his entire family. We are all praying he fights through this.”

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