Two prominent Buffalo-area businessmen were killed in a helicopter crash Thursday night.
According to the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department, Mark Croce, 58, was piloting the craft when it crashed into a backyard in Mechanicsburg, PA around 8:30 p.m. Croce and his passenger, Michael Capriotto, 63, of Orchard Park died in the crash.
The aircraft was headed to Buffalo from Washington, D.C., when the crash took place. The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash. Officials say the helicopter did not hit any home or other structures and there were no other injuries.
“If there’s any good news to take from this, that’s it,” said Cumberland County Public Information Officer John Brutsch.
Condolences began pouring in Friday morning as local leaders learned of the crash.
I am saddened by the passing of my friend Mark Croce. As owner of @Bflo_Chophouse, @CurtissHotel & @StatlerCity, Mark was part of our resurgence, adding jobs & creating destinations that have brought visitors to #Buffalo. His presence will be missed. https://t.co/sAUntsUE17
— Byron W. Brown (@MayorByronBrown) January 10, 2020
I'm shocked and very saddened to wake up to the sad news of the helicopter crash that took the lives of Mark Croce and Michael Capriotto. Mark was a very experienced pilot and loved traveling in his helicopter. My deepest condolences go out to both families at this sad time.
— Mark Poloncarz (@markpoloncarz) January 10, 2020
The ECSO lost a valuable member of our Reserve Scientific Staff last night with the death of mark Croce. Mark first served on the Reserve Aviation Unit and has served the Erie County Sheriff's Office and this community admirably. This is a loss for our community.
— Tim Howard (@ECSONY1) January 10, 2020
Terrible news this morning to hear of the deaths of WNYers Mark Croce & Michael Capriotto. Mark was a longtime friend & as big a booster of Buffalo as there ever was. Our hearts go out to Mark’s loving wife Jessica & their children as they deal with this incomprehensible tragedy.
— Brian Higgins (@RepBrianHiggins) January 10, 2020
Mark Croce was a dear friend, the news of his passing is devastating. He was a true champion of Buffalo and poured his heart into this City and it’s people. His immeasurable impact will live on through his work and his family. My deepest condolences to all of his loved ones. pic.twitter.com/OM5a21FZIm
— CrystalPeoplesStokes (@CPeoplesStokes) January 10, 2020
Croce was best known for redeveloping Buffalo's Statler City, his luxury Curtiss Hotel and as the owner of restaurants like Buffalo Chophouse and D'Arcy McGee. He was a key developer for the Buffalo Public Schools' soon-to-be-opened Emerson culinary and hospitality complex and owned and operated thousands of downtown parking spaces through his company Pay2Park.
Capriotto owned Bauer Service, an automotive repair company with annual revenue of $7 million and 20 employees.
In addition to expressing condolences about Croce's death, Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw shared more about Capriotto's accomplishments:
"Michael Capriotto, also of Orchard Park, was passionate about his community, as well. A businessman who invested in Orchard Park, he always said ‘yes’ and answered the call when people or charitable causes needed help. A former Village of Orchard Park Trustee, Mr. Capriotto was actively involved in supporting the Veterans Memorial Park in Orchard Park and had served on the board of Woodlawn Cemetery, among many worthy organizations. He owned the Kwik Fill directly across from Orchard Park Town Hall. He was a well known businessman and philanthropist who always gave back to the community he loved. Our hearts are heavy today with the loss of these two great men."
Croce is survived by his wife and two sons. Capriotto is survived by his wife and three children.