Cynthia Stanton '82 and Joe Ray Stetson '74-4 died Friday night in an airplane crash in Dover, N.Y., a town outside of Poughkeepsie.
The single-engine Cessna 172, Stetson's private plane, went down at 7:13 p.m. in heavy rain and fog outside Dutchess County airport.
Sgt. Thomas Clarke of the N.Y. State Police said yesterday a preliminary investigation conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration indicates that Stetson apparently began his descent too soon when he mistook a marker beacon 16 miles outside the airport for the final landing tower.
The aircraft emitted an emergency signal during its descent, and the state police dispatched a 100-person search party immediately.
The search party did not find the wreck until 3 p.m. Saturday.
One of Stanton's friends, who asked to remain anonymous, said that Stanton told her she was flying to her home with Stetson to visit her parents for the weekend.
Stanton, age 18, was the second-ranked player on the women's squash team and one of the country's top players. She was the valedictorian at the Millbrook Preparatory School last year and the school's squash champion.
"She was so beautiful, talented and vibrant. We all feel a personal loss as well as the tragedy involved in the death of someone so young," Evangeline Morphos, Stanton's proctor in Mower, said yesterday.
Women's squash captain Jennifer Stone '80 said yesterday, "As an individual, Cynthia had an incredibly optimistic way of looking at things. The whole team is really shook up."
"It's hard not to think of the times we've seen her, always giggling, running around, so full of life. We just keep wondering, "Why her?'" Rebecca Tung '80, another squash teammate of Stanton's, said yesterday.
Stetson, 26 years old, was affiliated with Quincy House, but was living off-campus in Arlington. He was originally from Springfield, Ky., where he attended Washington County High School.
Marshall Pihl, senior tutor of Quincy House, said yesterday that after taking a leave of absence for several years, the biochemistry major returned last fall to complete his degree.
Pihl said Stetson should have graduated in January, but because of the flu he missed one of his exams and planned to make it up in April. "He was a brilliant and charming person, and he had a particular gift with computers," he added.
Deborah J. Hugheshallet, senior preceptor in mathematics, who knew Stetson when she was a tutor in Quincy House, said yesterday, "He was an enormously kind and helpful individual, and he was always there when you needed him."
Stanton's funeral is Wednesday at noon in Millbrook, N.Y., and Stetson's is tomorrow in Springfield, Ky.