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Richard Rockefeller, great-grandson of John D. Rockefeller, dies in plane crash

By Haley Draznin and Elizabeth Landers, CNN
updated 9:10 PM EDT, Fri June 13, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Richard Rockefeller dies in crash of single-engine plane in Westchester County, New York
  • Father is philanthropist David Rockefeller; great-grandfather founded Standard Oil
  • Richard Rockefeller, 65, was the only one aboard the Piper PA-46-500TP Meridian aircraft

(CNN) -- Richard Rockefeller, son of philanthropist David Rockefeller and great-grandson of Standard Oil founder and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, was killed Friday in the crash of a single-engine plane in Westchester County, New York, a family representative and airport officials said.

Rockefeller, 65, was the only one aboard the Piper PA-46-500TP Meridian aircraft when it crashed at 8:08 a.m. Friday less than a mile from takeoff at an airport near White Plains, airport manager Peter Scherrer said after the crash.

He said the plane disappeared from radar and authorities lost contact with the pilot.

At 8:23 a.m., police were notified that a plane had crashed in the hamlet of Purchase, missing a house by about 200 feet, Scherrer said.

Richard Rockefeller, great grandson of John Rockefeller, died in a plane crash in Westchester County, New York on June 13. Rockefeller, right, examines a chold in Nigeria during 2009.
Richard Rockefeller, great grandson of John Rockefeller, died in a plane crash in Westchester County, New York on June 13. Rockefeller, right, examines a chold in Nigeria during 2009.

Rockefeller was headed to Portland, Maine, after flying into New York on Thursday for his father's 99th birthday, he said.

Scherrer described Rockefeller as an experienced pilot and said the morning was foggy with a quarter-mile visibility.

"This is a terrible tragedy," the Rockefeller family said in a statement released by spokesman Fraser P. Seitel. "The family is in shock. Richard was a wonderful and cherished son, brother, husband, father and grandfather. He was an experienced pilot and respected medical doctor. It is just horribly sad."

Rockefeller was a practicing physician in Portland until 2000, according to his biography posted on the Rockefeller Brothers Fund website, where he is listed as an advisory trustee.

Rockefeller also taught medicine in Maine from 1982 until 2000, according to the website. He founded and was president of the Health Commons Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving American medicine, and he was chairman of the U.S. Advisory Board of Doctors Without Borders from 1989 until 2010.

He had two grown children and resided in Falmouth, Maine.

Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating at the crash site, and National Transportation Safety Board members were on the way to the scene, said Harrison, New York, Police Chief Anthony Marraccini.

CNN's Leigh Remizowski contributed to this report.

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