65 year old Richard Gilder Rockefeller, 65, son of former Chase Manhattan CEO David Rockefeller, and great grandson of John D. Rockefeller Sr. has been identified as the deceased in a small plane crash just outside of Westchester Country Airport. The aircraft, owned and operated by Mr. Rockefeller, was a single-engined Piper PA-46-500TP (registered N5335R). As NYC Aviation reports, though the cause for the incident is unknown, visibility at HPN for the last several hours this morning has been poor, at 1/4 mile or less; and the Airport Manager reports that the aircraft struck some trees just after departure.
"It's a terrible tragedy," said family spokesman Fraser Seitel, who confirmed the death. "The family is in shock. Richard was a wonderful and cherished member of the family. He was an experienced pilot. He was a medical doctor, and it's horribly sad.
Multiple police vehicles and a fire truck surround cottage Avenue in Purchase after a small plane appeared to have crashed near Westchester County Airport. Video by Thane Grauel .
According to Lohud, Seitel said the 64-year-old Rockefeller, grandson of John D. Rockefeller, ate dinner with his father Thursday night to celebrate David Rockefeller's 99th birthday.
The Piper plane (similar to the one Rockefeller was flying)
More from Lohud:
Airport operations administrator Peter Scherrer said the plane, a Piper Meridian single-engine turbo prop, took off from Runway 16 at the airport and went down at 8:08 a.m., crashing into trees off Cottage Avenue in Purchase. The weather was foggy and rainy at the time. The flight had been expected to last an hour and 14 minutes.
Richard Rockefeller lives in Falmouth, Maine. According to FlightAware flight tracking service, the plane left Portland International Jetport in Maine at 2:22 p.m. Thursday and landed at Westchester Airport at 3:41 p.m.
Dr. Rockefeller practiced as a family physician in Falmouth, Maine, until 2000 and has worked on global health causes. He served as president of the Health Commons Institute, a nonprofit organization, and chairman of the U.S. Advisory Board of Doctors Without Borders, according to the Rockefeller Brothers Trust Fund website. He is married and has two grown children.
Scherrer said the pilot flew out of the airport regularly. There were no reports of any other injuries. No one else was on the plane.
Officials confirmed that the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are en route to the scene and will head the crash investigation. A press conference is expected to be held around noon.
The Rev. Christopher Monturo of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in West Harrison said he heard about the accident on a scanner and arrived at the scene about 9:30 a.m. to offer his services as one of the town's chaplains.
"We just pray for everybody, that everything will go well," he said.
The airport closed for flights after the crash but flights resumed at 9:45 a.m., Scherrer said.