BY ART BUKOWSKI
GAYLORD -- Matt Rooyakker heard many things in the wake of an Otsego County plane crash that killed two well-known Gaylord residents, but one stuck in his mind.
"The comment was it always seems that tragedy happens to the good ones," said Rooyakker, president of the Gaylord Chamber of Commerce board, who knew both victims. "I think that speaks volumes."
Dr. Patrick J. McNamara, 52, and Christopher A. Hasty, 32, died when McNamara's two-seat, single-engine airplane crashed in a ditch off I-75 near Vanderbilt at about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Witnesses said the McNamara-piloted aircraft circled I-75 and attempted to land on the highway shortly before it crashed. Federal authorities investigating the crash didn't respond to requests for comment Wednesday or said they couldn't provide information, and local authorities deferred comment to federal officials.
McNamara, a licensed radiologist of 18 years, owned Gaylord radiology facility Image North. Hasty was a part-owner of Total Powersports, a Gaylord ATV and snowmobile dealer. Both were Gaylord natives and familiar faces in the community, friends said.
McNamara was "very giving" with his time and money, Rooyakker said, and famous for his commitment to help others.
"Whether it was the guy cleaning out the garbage cans or the most wealthy guy in town, he didn't care. He liked everybody, and he was nice to everybody," he said. "He was one of the nicest guys you'd ever meet. It's a cliche, but it sums it up pretty well."
McNamara wasn't married and didn't have children, Rooyakker said.
Jeannie Jones, who worked with Hasty for five years at Total Powersports, said he was enthusiastic and "full of energy."
"There's nobody in the world like Chris Hasty, at all," Jones said. "Everybody enjoyed Chris."
Hasty left behind a two-year-old daughter and had a persistent dedication to the business, Jones said.
"He was passionate about everything ... He was always here, loved his customers, loved his staff," she said. "He always had fun."
Hasty and McNamara were friends, Jones said.
Gaylord Regional Airport Director Matt Barresi said his airport doesn't have a tower, and he couldn't say if the plane took off from that airport or intended to land there. The investigation is now in the hands of the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, he said.
"We kind of stay away from speculating until they've had a chance to sort everything out," he said.
FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro said he didn't know the flight's origin and couldn't comment on what caused the crash. Officials will use radar and other records in an attempt to determine the aircraft's flight path, he said.
Smaller aircraft flying a safe distance from larger airports generally don't file a flight plan with federal authorities, Molinaro said.
The NTSB officer assigned to the crash didn't respond to requests for comment, and FAA officials at the scene couldn't be reached for comment.
FAA records show the plane was owned by Screamin Aviation LLC, which lists the same Gaylord address as Image North. McNamara was the sole owner of Screamin Aviation and a familiar face around the airport, Barresi said.
McNamara's Aeronca was built in 1946, according to FAA records. It's not unusual for older planes to fly, Barresi said.
"Just like you have classic cars, some people have classic planes," he said.
FAA officials were at the crash scene Wednesday. They will collect information and turn it over to the NTSB, Barresi said.
Nelson Funeral Home in Gaylord was in the process Wednesday of scheduling arrangements for both McNamara and Hasty.
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