Westchester Plane Crash: Richard Rockefeller Dies After Father’s 99th Birthday Party

Richard Rockefeller, the great-grandson of John D. Rockefeller, died on Friday morning after his plane crashed just minutes after take off from Westchester County Airport.

A close family friend of the Rockefellers, Florence Phillips, spoke to reporters about the deceased: “He was a warm and extraordinary man, brilliant and idealistic about medicine and social issues. It’s inconceivable that this happened.”

A yard of a private home on Cottage Avenue in Purchase, New York, was the site where Rockefeller’s Piper Meridian single-engine turboprop went down. Rockefeller, aged 65, was the only person on board.

The aircraft just missed a two-story house before it hit the ground, and wreckage was strewn across the yard with parts of the plane lodged in some trees nearby.

Fraser Seitel, a spokesman for the Rockefeller family said: “It’s a terrible tragedy. 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.”

In a news conference on Friday Westchester County Airport operations manager, Peter Scherrer, spoke about the Westchester plane crash:

“It was foggy conditions outside. You can only see about a quarter-mile down the runway… Indications are it was a 200-foot (visibility) ceiling, but indefinite, meaning he couldn’t visually see the ceiling. Those are extreme conditions.”

The loss has been felt by many, especially in Westchester County where the Rockefeller family is well known.Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino also spoke at the news conference saying about the Rockefellers:

“They’re very much a part of Westchester County and its history, so our deepest sympathies go out to David Rockefeller and the entire Rockefeller family.”

A full investigation on behalf of the FDA and the FAA is underway as authorities try to establish precisely what caused the fatal Westchester plane crash.

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