CORFU, N.Y. (WIVB)–The NTSB says it will not travel to Corfu to investigate the scene of the plane crash that killed prominent attorney Steve Barnes and his niece Elizabeth.

Officials tell News 4 the decision to not travel to the scene included assessment of COVID-19 risks.

Investigators will gather information from a variety of sources and a preliminary report will be issued in the next few weeks, the NTSB says.

NTSB officials released a full statement saying: 

We continue to conduct the same safety risk assessments we have historically used to make decisions related to travel to the scene of an accident, and are now adding additional factors for hazards related to the risks associated with COVID-19. Ongoing NTSB investigations will likely be impacted by measures taken to fight the pandemic. Work requiring travel of NTSB staff is being curtailed or canceled until it can be completed safely, or, conducted by another means. The safety of NTSB staff is the Chairman’s and agency leaderships’ first concern, and the actions being taken to protect staff, reflect their commitment to the health and safety of agency staff, as well as that of their families, and the communities in which they live and serve. Historically, about 350 of the 1200-1300 aviation accidents and serious incidents investigated by the NTSB annually require an NTSB investigator to respond to the accident site to physically examine wreckage/evidence, but even more investigations require follow-up travel to conduct examinations and tests of recovered hardware and components. Since implementing social distancing and non-essential travel measures for the NTSB workforce, the need for an investigator to conduct travel associated with the examination of wreckage at the scene, or in other locations as part of follow-up investigative work, will be determined on a case-by-case basis, considering factors such as the circumstances of the accident or incident, volume of information that could be gathered by other sources, and the risks associated with travel in light of the Coronavirus Pandemic.

NTSB officials tell us investigations involving fatalities and other major investigations currently take between 12-24 months to complete.

Troy Licastro is a digital content producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of his work here.

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