WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Federal investigators are trying to determine the cause of a small plane crash in Westchester County, New York, on Thursday night that claimed the lives of two Cleveland-area men.

Authorities said the single-engine Beechcraft A36 that was flying from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York to the Cuyahoga County Airport in Richmond Heights, crashed into a heavily wooded area near the Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York.

Air traffic controllers said they heard a mayday call from the pilot, reporting engine trouble. The pilot declared an emergency and was attempting to land at the airport in White Plains, but a short time later, the plane’s radio went silent.

Authorities are now trying to determine if terrible weather conditions at the time may have played a role in the deadly crash.

“Your airplane is in deep trouble; it’s going to lose altitude; that you need to put this thing down safely as fast as you can, and you’re trying to keep in control of the vehicle as best as you can, and communicate with the FAA as best as you can to try and bring this airplane into an airport that most likely you’re not familiar with — on a night that was miserable,” said Westchester County Executive George Latimer.

Killed in the plane crash was the pilot, Boruch Taub of Cleveland Heights, and his passenger and good friend Ben Chafetz of Beachwood. The two men were members of Cleveland’s close-knit Orthodox Jewish community.

Rabbi Nissim Abrin with the Bais Avrohom community told FOX 8, “We were hoping for the best, bracing for the worst, and unfortunately, when the news was confirmed, we plunged into, you know, shock and grief. They were both devoted husbands, loving husbands, fathers and very proud of their families.”

Ben Chafetz was the owner 121e Commerce LLC in Cleveland Heights and Boruch Taub was the owner of Masterworks Automotive and Transmission, also in Cleveland Heights.

Federal investigators will now focus on the engine and maintenance records of the plane and what caused it to go down. But the focus here at home is on the victims’ families.

“The process has just begun and they’re irreplaceable, and it’s hard because we know that,” Rabbi Abrin told us.

The rabbi said when the plane began having engine trouble, one of the men tried to message his family through a social media app, but the heartbreaking message actually went to a temple prayer group.

“Ben definitely sounded in distress, but he said to pray, because I don’t believe he ever gave up for a second; I don’t believe that Ben or Boruch would ever give up. I think his love, his humility and his faith came through with those texts,” he said.

As family and friends grieve the loss of the two men, they are relying on their faith and remembering the impact the two men had on their community throughout their lives.

“And most importantly, just how to raise a loving family and how to be a devoted husband and father — and just to do that with love and with faith and with generosity,” said Rabbi Abrin.

In accordance with their Orthodox beliefs, the bodies of the two men were flown back to Greater Cleveland on Friday for services.