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The great grandson of Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller, Richard Rockefeller, died on Friday when his private plane crashed shortly after taking off from Westchester County Airport. The 65-year-old Rockefeller was piloting the plane himself and was the only passenger aboard.
The single-engine plane took off from the airport just north of New York City around 8 a.m. Friday. Ten minutes after takeoff, the plane just missed a house west of the airfield before clipping several pine trees. The plane then violently crashed into a yard.
The aircraft broke up into many pieces, some strewn about the property and some lodged in the trees. Officials said Rockefeller never reported a problem ahead of the crash.
The Independent reports that at the time of the crash, the weather was foggy and visibility was about a quarter-mile. In such conditions, it is up to pilots of private planes to decide whether or not to fly.
Family spokesman Fraser Sitel told the Associated Press that Rockefeller was a doctor and his most recent project was to find a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder in wounded war veterans. Sitel said, “It’s a terrible tragedy. Richard was a wonderful cherished son, brother, father and grandfather.”
Rockefeller is survived by his wife, Nancy, and their two children, Rebecca and Clayton.