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NTSB Cites ‘Aerodynamic Stall' In Plane Crash That Killed Ridgefield Teens

Cathryn 'Carey' Depuy Photo Credit: Facebook
Ryan Adams, who graduated from St. Luke's School in New Canaan, was an accomplished Boy Scout who earned the organization's highest award at age 13. Photo Credit: Courtesy of St. Luke's School

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. — The NTSB cited an “aerodynamic stall” and “total loss of engine power” as the probable causes of an airplane crash that killed two college students from Ridgefield in September 2015 in upstate New York.

Two teenagers died in the crash — Cathryn 'Carey' Depuy, the pilot, and Ryan Adams, the only passenger. Both were freshmen at Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y.

She was piloting a rented single-engine Cessna out of the Hamilton Municipal Airport on a pleasure flight. They crashed into a field in Morrisville at 12:51 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determined the probable cause of the accident was "The pilot's failure to maintain airspeed and her exceedance of the airplane's critical angle-of-attack, which led to an aerodynamic stall, following a total loss of engine power." 

The reasons for the loss of engine power "could not be determined because post-accident examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation," the report said.

About 20 minutes into the pleasure flight, she announced on the VGC common traffic advisory frequency that she was over Colgate University, which was the last communication from her. 

The airplane had been flying for about 30 minutes and then began a series of turns with its altitude fluctuating between 1,900 and 2,100 feet mean sea level, or about 600 to 800 feet above ground level, the NTSB said in a report. 

About that time, one witness reported the engine began "spitting and sputtering" and experienced a total loss of power. Other witnesses reported that the engine stopped, restarted, and then lost power again. 

The airplane subsequently pitched nose down and entered a spin before ground impact, which is indicative of an aerodynamic stall. 

No distress calls were made by the pilot, the report said.

The board did not find any drug or alcohol use by the pilot.

Depuy, a 2015 graduate of the Ridgefield High School, was captain of the girls cross country team. She had earned her pilot’s license earlier that year. 

Adams was a 2015 graduate of St. Luke's School in New Canaan. He had been a Boy Scout since first grade and earned the rank of Eagle Scout in eighth grade at the age of 13, making him among the youngest Eagle Scouts in the nation. 

He played on the varsity golf team at St. Luke’s and joined the varsity squash team in his senior year, after playing three years of varsity ice hockey.

They were both were 18-year-old freshmen at Colgate University.

The report was approved Jan. 31 by the NTSB.

Click here to read the full report.

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