By Staff

BEDFORD, N.H. (CBS) – The mother of Emanuel “Manny” Vomvolakis said she believes her son died a hero Friday night when his plane crashed into the Merrimack River in New Hampshire.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the 23-year-old from Linden, Michigan experienced engine failure in his Swearingen SA226 while approaching Manchester Airport. Vomvolakis’ plane burst into flames after it crashed into the Merrimack River in Bedford. He was killed on impact.

The plane had taken off from Essex County Airport in Fairfield, New Jersey. Police said the plane was operated by Castle Air, based on Canton, Ohio, and was transporting medical supplies.

Manny Vomvolakis. (Family Photo)

Cindy Frohriep, Vomvolakis’ mother, said she believes her son intentionally crashed into the river in order to avoid endangering others.

“He also died a hero, managing to avoid hitting a large residential neighborhood and crashed just past it,” she posted on Facebook. “Manny was a remarkable young man and I will miss him beyond comprehension. There was no greater joy in my life than being his mom.”

Frohriep told WBZ-TV Monday aviation was Vomvolakis’ passion “every minute of his life.” Vomvolakis mentored aspiring pilots. His mother said he enjoyed speaking at length with veteran pilots about all things aviation.

“We have no doubt that he purposely avoided hitting the residential area, even if that hurt his chances of making it to the runway,” Frohriep said, adding “He was my only child and the pain is unbearable.”

Vomvolakis’ family is setting up a memorial fund in his honor called the Fly High Manny Memorial Fund. The family plans to donate each year to a student in the future aviators program who wants to go into aviation as a profession.

A funeral will be held for Vomvolakis on Friday in Michigan.

The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to release a preliminary report on the crash within weeks, but the full investigation could take one-to-two years. Staff