Private plane crash kills 7, including US business mogul

Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz was killed along with six other people in a fiery plane crash in Massachusetts, just days after reaching a deal that many hoped would end months of infighting at the newspaper and restore it to its former glory.

His son, Drew, and a business partner confirmed Katz's death in a crash of a Gulfstream IV private jet, which went down on takeoff from Hanscom Field outside Boston on its way to Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Saturday night.

There were no survivors.

On Tuesday, Katz and Harold H.F. ``Gerry'' Lenfest struck a deal to gain full control of the Inquirer as well as the Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com by buying out their co-owners for $88 million, an agreement that ended a very public feud over the Inquirer's business and journalism direction.

Lenfest said Sunday that the deal will be delayed, but will proceed.

Katz and Anne Leeds, a retired preschool teacher who was Katz's next-door neighbour and who also died in the crash, were among the 200 or so guests at the Concord, Massachusetts, home of author Doris Kearns Goodwin on Saturday afternoon, her representative said.

The event was to support an education initiative for Goodwin's son Michael.

Afterward, the author joined Katz, her friend of nearly 20 years, and others at dinner, where they talked about their shared interests, including journalism, Goodwin said in a statement.

"The last thing he said to me upon leaving for the plane was that most of all what we shared was our love and pride for our children,'' Goodwin said.

James P. Leeds Sr., town commissioner of Longport, New Jersey, said he received a text message from his 74-year-old wife, Anne, just four minutes before the crash saying they were about to take off, he said.

Anne Leeds been invited Saturday by Katz to attend the event, James Leeds said.

The identities of the other victims weren't immediately released, and officials gave no information on the cause of the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

When the crash occurred, nearby residents saw a fireball and felt the blast shake their homes.

Jeff Patterson told The Boston Globe he saw a fireball about 60 feet high and suspected the worst.

"I heard a big boom, and I thought at the time that someone was trying to break into my house because it shook it,'' said Patterson's son, 14-year-old Jared Patterson.

"I thought someone was like banging on the door trying to get in.''

Hanscom Field is about 20 miles northwest of Boston.

The regional airport serves mostly corporate aviation, private pilots and commuter air services.

 

Photo credit: www.desertjet.com

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