UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (KDKA/AP) – A laser eye surgeon and the pilot have been identified as the two people killed when a plane owned by an air ambulance company crashed as it prepared to land at an airport operated by Penn State University.
Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers says the dead pilot is Garry Orner, of White Oak. Sayers was waiting for dental information to confirm the identity of the passenger, but Nittany Eye Associates & Laser Eye Center confirmed the dead passenger was Dr. Robert Arffa.
The medical group says Arffa had traveled from Pittsburgh to State College once a month to perform eye surgeries for the last 15 years.
“He’s touched many thousands of people in Western Pennsylvania, to the point that everybody knows somebody that Dr. Arffa would have cared for,” said Optometrist Dr. R.G. Witchey.
Kelly Christie was one of his many patients.
“He just walked me through it and he actually put his hand on my shoulder through the whole entire surgery, and just tapped me and said ‘you’re doing great, everything is going fantastic,’ which is very comforting when you’re going through something like that,” she said.
The Federal Aviation Administration says the Piper PA31 crashed a mile east of the airport. The plane belonged to Aero National Inc., which hasn’t responded to calls for comment.
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