Update: Plane Crash Survivor Graduates From Farmingdale State [VIDEO]

Evan Kisseloff graduated just days after surviving a Wednesday night crash in Sterling, Pa.

Farmingdale, N.Y. – Three days after a claimed the lives of two aviation students, the wreck’s lone survivor joined his classmates Saturday at the school’s 93rd commencement ceremony.

Evan Kisseloff, 21, of Oceanside, N.Y. survived a Wednesday night crash in Sterling, Pa. The plane reportedly stalled on takeoff from Spring Hill Airport – bound for Republic Airport – and crashed.

Patrick Sheridan, 34, of Long Beach, N.Y. and Casey Falconer, 19, of Garden City Park, N.Y. died in the accident. The school remembered the two with a moment of silence, led by Brian Maher, Director of the Long Island Educational Opportunity Center, who gave the invocation.

“Our hearts are heavy and our spirits are saddened as we face this tragedy together,” Maher said. 

Amazingly Kisseloff, who was largely unharmed from the crash, marched with an estimated 600 fellow Farmingdale State students Saturday at Nold Hall. Kisseloff received a Bachelor of Science with honors in Aviation Administration.

“I’ve been looking forward to this day for a very long time,” Kisseloff said. “I remember being in the emergency room asking the doctor, ‘Am I going to be able to walk on Saturday?’”

He did.

Flanked by his parents, Alan and Nancy, and siblings, Jared and Brittany, Kisseloff recounted the fateful flight from just days earlier. 

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Sheridan owned the single-engine plane, which the trio took on a day trip from East Farmingdale to Lancaster, Pa. and then on to Spring Hill Airport to meet Falconer’s parents for dinner.

They all hugged Falconer’s mother, shook his father’s hand and said their goodbyes at the airport, Kisseloff said.

No more than three minutes after takeoff, according to Kisseloff, the stall alarm went off. Then a wing clipped a tree and the plane hit the ground.

“The first thing that came to my mind after impact was, ‘This is not how it’s going to end for me. This can’t be it,’” Kisseloff said.

Kisseloff, who suffered a cracked left rib and stitches in a heavily bandaged right hand, said he managed to escape through the rear passenger window before the plane burst into flames. 

On Saturday, he donned a graduation robe and cap and took his place unassumingly in the procession.

“We’re very proud he accomplished what he accomplished,” said dad, Alan Kisseloff, who came up from Ormond Beach, Fla. to be at graduation. “Our hearts go out to the Falconers and Sheridans. No parent should ever have to suffer this kind of loss.”

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Jason Molinet May 13, 2012 at 04:26 PM
That's an edited interview. He spoke at length about the loss he felt.
Deni Lanzandorfer May 13, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Your reading comprehension qualifies for things that make you go "Hmmm. . . "
Strong Sincere May 13, 2012 at 04:34 PM
I TOTALLY agree! RIGHT ON Jennifer! It's nice to see some common sense injected here. Don't get me wrong...I'm all for OPTIMISM, but religious DELUSION on a grand scale (or DELUSION of any kind) is not what's needed here. Good for you Jennifer and the other brave folks who dare to voice there opinion in opposition here. I'm glad you're not willing to cave in to the group hypnotism that religion can cause. If religious believe did ONLY good (in helping you through hard time) that would be one thing...it's been called the opium of the masses...BUT a lot of WRONG is ALSO done in the name of religion...and that's NOT good. Closing your eyes to what "hurts to look at" might get you through hardship in the "short term", but don't spend your life with a blind fold on...or you won't be able to make the needed REAL LIFE decisions based on REALITY...decisions that might make your life better in a REAL...TANGIBLE way. Don't get lost in the delusion to the point where you start making illogical decisions. That's when religion turns bad...it can become like using a drug as a crutch. It's okay to be happy and hopeful...but don't become completely delusional.
Cathy May 13, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Richard, I work with Evan and he is far from the self centered person you describe. In fact he is very kind and has a calming personality. That said, I'm sure he did console his friend's family. Not like he hopped out of the plane and went straight to graduation. If you read the account he called out to his friends and shortly after the plane burst into flames. Would you feel better if he tried to get them out (not knowing if they were pinned in the wreckage) and went up in flames too? Just maybe they couldn't get out. Maybe they died on impact. You do not know. He has nothing to be ashamed of. The accident was not his fault, his friends deaths were not his fault. He will have plenty of time to grieve, so let the kid enjoy this one day.
MSIMON May 13, 2012 at 04:55 PM
@ Deborah some would say that the spiritually challenged are worst off than any who are mentally challenged because the mentally challenged are as valuable as the smartest and most righteous; but the spirtually challenged will surely perish. Infant's taken after birth have spirits more than you apparently have and they live on. Their loss is sometimes a test of faith and fortitude for their loving parents. Remember some parents rejoice that their unwanted child dies at birth. You people who think your logic and reason are everything will hit the wall. Love is not logical, it is spiritual and it requires sacrifice and faith. Those who have encountered God can not be moved by your disdain of faith. You need a healed mind. Who is owed the birth of their child ... who is owed anything and who owes it? If there is no God who are you so angry with?
MSIMON May 13, 2012 at 05:12 PM
The human spirit is eternal. It is our time on earth that ends. We are not "destroyed" by our death. Just because we fear death does not mean it is a destruction of our life here. Are the two young lives not worth the compilation of joy and accomplishment they made while here? We have lived our lives whether we die after we have lived a minute or 19 or 34 years. How many foundations, movements, reforms, and awakenings have followed a death. That includes stillbirths and the death of children unborn. God is in charge but he gives you choice and each of us who have the short gift of a viable life are making those choices.
CSR May 13, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Patrick and Casey died due to unforeseen happenings to the plane. To think that the moment and manner of death is already fixed for each person at their birth...would be to say, there is no need to avoid dangerous situations or to care for our health. Do you wear a seat belt and obey traffic laws? Why...if your time to die is already fixed? Be happy for Evan that he was able to survive the crash and don't blame God for the accident. I John 5:19 says Satan has power over the world ...he causes much of the pain and sorrow we suffer now.
Skip L. May 13, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Lana - I think your intentions were well placed and honorable, but you certainly stirred up a hornet's nest with replies. I do agree with you though.
CSR May 13, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Anthony, I can understand your frustration. Christmas and the Easter Bunny are two good examples of things added to Christianity that were never Bible based. Bible truths are not fables and can benefit all of us. This life is not all there is. We can have the life that Adam and Eve gave up...a paradise home with no pain or suffering. Would you like to know the truth?
Gator Dave May 13, 2012 at 06:58 PM
A tragedy but clearly NOT a miracle. A direct result of his seating position being strapped in, more yielding/upholstered adjacent materials farther back in crush zone, , aircraft trajectory and speed at impact, crash environment, the design and materials of the airframe structure, and the actions of the pilot struggling to recover from whatever initial error or malfunction NTSB finds put them in this grim situation. Their fatalities similarly predictable from the front seat proximity to more interior unyielding surfaces and exterior obstacles producing impact unconsciousness similar to the Thurman Munson crash. Science detrmines outcomes... not superstition and fantasy. To credit a god with his survival is to blame a god for their loss. In aviation it is education, training, discipline, and quality maintenance...not prayer frequency/intensity... that lead to the best outcomes under a given set of circumstances.
Tim S May 13, 2012 at 07:04 PM
I'm so glad I was able to overcome the religious brainwashing and make my own decisions. You people need to take a step back and read what you are writing. Naive and ignorant is all I can say........I would of burned trying to save the other two before I saved my self!!!
Gator Dave May 13, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Nice, Mr T. Callous ignorance on display amid tragedy. Are you with NTSB? Earliest probable cause finding in their history? Familiar with somatogravic illusions are you? GFY. There will be a patient, methodical, non-spiritual analysis of wreckage, eyewitness accounts, any recorded data, etc and perhaps even simulation flights before the probable cause is determined... and it may be a malfunction rather than pilot error. The trained experienced objective investigators (not tax-dodging medaeval priests, ministers, rabbis, imams, witch doctors, etc - how has a progressive nation come to such reliance on and deference to superstition, lies, and ignorance? 6000 years of slick marketing and fear indoctrination!) will also examine logbooks and curriculum folders confirming the dozens of flights dedicated to stall recognition and recovery were properly completed... and not just pencil whipped as some early SUNY chief instructors tolerated about the same time Farmingdale's President was secretly planning to shut down the program and sell off its assets.
Gator Dave May 13, 2012 at 07:17 PM
A tragedy but clearly NOT a "miracle anyone survived" other than as a figure of speech, perhaps, Mr Editor. Curb your hyperbole. And the survivor did the best he could under the circumstances to save the crew. His survival was a direct result of his seating position being strapped in, surrounded by more yielding/upholstered adjacent materials farther back in crush zone, aircraft trajectory and speed at impact, crash environment, the design and materials of the airframe structure, and the actions of the pilot struggling to recover from whatever initial error or malfunction NTSB finds put them in this grim situation. Crew fatalities were similarly predictable from the front seat proximity to more interior unyielding surfaces and intruding exterior obstacles producing impact unconsciousness similar to the Thurman Munson crash. Science detrrmines outcomes... not superstition and fantasy. To credit a god with his survival is to blame a god for their loss. In aviation it is education, training, discipline, and quality maintenance...not prayer frequency/intensity... that lead to the best outcomes under a given set of circumstances and over time.
Gator Dave May 13, 2012 at 07:29 PM
While your observations on ignorant, coercive, exploitative, anti-science tax-dodging organized religions are historically documented and irrefutable, you cannot possibly defend that "rescue" claim. You were not there. You do not know the interior conditions, volatility factors, or even whether they both died on impact. The passenger did not have a "Jaws of Life" Hurst device handy, yet he initially tried to free their inert, trapped bodies before seeking help. Likely more familiar with aircraft structure and systems (especially fuel) than you, he did all he could. For you to suggest as a (here) Sunday morning quarterback you could have done more is both specious and mean-spirited.
MSIMON May 13, 2012 at 07:39 PM
They should feel better. They are right to believe in God and feel better. You feel better. Blessed are they. You choose to believe yourself to be gone one day and to be nothing. Every culture believes in the spirit but you do not detect your own. Why are you offended by religion when you claim to believe nothing and to be waiting for the day when you will be gone, and be nothing, forgotten over a short time. Oh yes I would be angry too if I believed my life was nothing waiting to be nothing.
MalcomX May 13, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Gator Dave aka Dave Schlafman - Google Schlafman and Farmingdale in the same search to learn his history
Tim S May 13, 2012 at 08:17 PM
He claimed he crawled out of the plane first and then yelled for them to get out? Inert, maybe? Trapped, probably. Still, there is no doubt in my mind that I could have and would have done more. He didn't appear to be very upset in the interview, so maybe he does have a clear conscious.....but I doubt it.
Newbaku May 13, 2012 at 09:36 PM
"I do not believe that God plans these things. He gave us free will and a brain and let us choose how to use it. We make machines that do wondrous things, but they also are the caue of our deaths at times and I firmly believe that God does not make a plane crash or a drunk driver cross the center line and kill a van full of soccer players." Was it God's will for two to die and one to live? If the life spared was spared due to God's plan/will/grace, why would God not bestow that plan/will/grace on the others? Are you saying that each time we get in a moving vehicle we are tempting fate? If so, why do people ever pray for safe travel? When I get in a car or board a plane, does God just throw up His hands and say, well...all bets are off...let's see if she survives?
Newbaku May 13, 2012 at 09:44 PM
James, I think the problem people have is that if the entire outcome of the crash was part of God's will, then we should all say "Yay! Evan lived because it is God's will!" AND "Yay! Evan's friends died because it is God's will!"
Newbaku May 13, 2012 at 09:46 PM
I'd bet the farm and lot that Evan's friend would WANT him to live his life to the fullest, to enjoy his accomplishment and rejoice in his survival. That's not selfish...that's making the most of the GIFT OF LIFE.
Kelly May 14, 2012 at 02:21 AM
CSR hi brother or sister, from sister bazan in alabama
Kelly May 14, 2012 at 02:24 AM
CSR, i totally agree with you, not to mention i am pretty sure I know what the name is of the God you and I both serve
Gator Dave May 14, 2012 at 06:11 AM
1of 3 Here it is. I was the First Director of the SUNY Flightline and only one thusfar to not leave in disgrace. Always did the "right thing" for aviation, higher ed, and my students despite great personal cost and while the lowest paid prof on campus. Emphasized safety (including lifejacket donning drills), no-shortcut maintenance, and increased support/overdue promotions for mechanics. Exposed and with student/parent/legislator support aborted administration secret sell off/shutdown plan.
Gator Dave May 14, 2012 at 06:15 AM
2 of 3 Sought to replace "hangar queen" VFR-only Katanas purchased (via IMHO bribes and kickbacks) before my arrival while authorizing rehab of and avionics upgrades to abandoned-in-grass Cessnas as affordable, all-weather instrument trainers. Discovered and exposed President Gibralter/Chancellor King secret plan to sell off flightline assets to private investors and phase out Trustee Lou Howard's patriotic, venerable program. Thus alerted, students, parents, and legislators ultimately derailed the Gibralter/King scheme. Restructured instructor pay to reflect experience and effectiveness instead of nepotism. Initiated low/no cost mentoring and simulator programs.
Gator Dave May 14, 2012 at 06:21 AM
3 of 3 Sought to keep resident citizen student rates at the legal, non-profit "pass through" level (vs subsequent Directors following administration orders and dropping student-protecting flight insurance coverage and adding rate surcharges) while seeking construction funds for a new fleet... with that fleet eventually thus obtained. Late on the day in 2002 that Gibralter announced he was being forced by the outcry to keep the program alive, Gibralter dispatched thugs to remove me as Director and without any cause and in pure retaliation banned me from ever setting foot on my beloved flightline (a public facility) again... while quisling Dean Raju secretly ordered all my campus teaching assignments be canceled. I filed a Federal suit which forced SUNY to lift the indefensible ban. For my service to students and State in this critical period, I was awarded a University Aviation Association Aerospace Educator of the Year Award in 2006.
Gator Dave May 14, 2012 at 06:42 AM
PS to "Malcolm" [sp] My identity was scarcely "concealed" if that is what you are implying. Posted comments with a photo taken in 2002 next to Flightline of my favorite car from that time... lost to forced unemployment along with LI house, etc. But the program survives to serve future dedicated students which is what matters. And many of my students from that period stay in touch... some reporting they have responsible FAA and aviation industry jobs while others fly in business aircraft, military fighters, and left seats of airliners with a keen sense of ethics and responsibility to others. And YOU are? Hopefully not one of the amoral six-figure-salaried (both at Albany HQ and Farmingdale campus!) PR flacks who did King, Gibralter, and Raju's dirty work back then.
Jason Molinet May 14, 2012 at 10:13 PM
Another emotional storyline from graduation day: http://patch.com/A-tnLK
Cam May 14, 2012 at 10:35 PM
He is entitled to celebrate HIS college graduation!! He is not celebrating the loss of his friends or the fact that HE survived the plane crash, he HAS to live with that VIVID memory the rest of HIS LIFE!! Probably worse nightmare for this young man, why are people such idiots??
Eddie Rogers May 16, 2012 at 01:54 AM
There is way to much public celebration for Evan and his family. Yes, they are very lucky to have their son, but shut up and say this was a tragedy and nothing more. And for all you a**holes with "God's plan" think about his "plan" when he rips something out of your life.
Eddie Rogers May 16, 2012 at 02:03 AM
Evan's family are celebrating way to much "publicly". I agree with Eddie. If anyone attended the wake of Casey Falconer, and I did, Evan and his family should have laid low for a bit and just thanked their lucky stars that this tragedy ended happily for them


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