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Son of David Rockefeller Dies in Small-Plane Crash

Thursday, March 23, 2017 17:17
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(Before It's News)

Dr. Richard Rockefeller, son of the billionaire and prominent philanthropist David Rockefeller, was killed Friday morning when the small plane he was piloting crashed shortly after takeoff, according to a spokesman for the family.

Dr. Rockefeller, 65, was the only person on board the plane, which the authorities identified as a Piper Meridian single-engine turboprop.

The cause of the crash was not immediately clear.

Dr. Rockefeller took off from Westchester County Airport at 8:08 a.m., departing from Runway 16 into dense fog and steady rain. Less than 10 minutes later, the Federal Aviation Administration notified airport officials that it could not reach the pilot.

At 8:23 a.m., the local police reported that the plane had crashed less than a mile from the airport, near Cottage Avenue in the town of Harrison.

It smashed through several trees and narrowly missed an occupied house before hitting the ground and breaking into pieces, the authorities said.

Dr. Rockefeller was flying home after visiting his father, David, at the family’s estate in Pocantico Hills, a hamlet in the town of Mount Pleasant. Mr. Rockefeller’s 99th birthday was Thursday.

David Rockefeller is the oldest living member of the family whose name adorns countless university buildings, hospital wings, libraries and museums across the country.

Investigators less than a mile from Westchester County Airport on Friday, where a single-engine plane flown by Dr. Rockefeller crashed soon after taking off in fog and rain.

He is a grandson of John D. Rockefeller, an accounting clerk who invested $4,000 into an oil refinery business and went on to lead the Standard Oil Company. He became one of the richest and most famous men in the world.

Fraser P. Seitel, the family spokesman, said Dr. Rockefeller was an experienced pilot and had flown in and out of the Westchester airport many times.


Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were sent to investigate the crash.

“The family is in shock,” Mr. Seitel said. “This is a terrible tragedy. Richard was a wonderful and cherished son, brother, husband, father and grandfather.”

Dr. Rockefeller was a family physician in Falmouth, Me., who earlier practiced and taught medicine in Portland, Me. He was married with two children and two stepchildren.

He was chairman of the United States Advisory Board of Doctors Without Borders from 1989 until 2010, and served on the board of Rockefeller University until 2006.

Doctors Without Borders issued a statement on his death. Dr. Deane Marchbein, president of the United States division of Doctors Without Borders, said the group was “devastated.”

“Richard gave so much of his life to support Doctors Without Borders,” Dr. Marchbein said in the statement. “He made so many vital contributions that have helped Doctors Without Borders provide independent medical humanitarian assistance to millions of patients in over 70 countries.”

In recent years, Dr. Rockefeller was working to help establish better treatment for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Mr. Seitel said.

He was also a past president of the Rockefeller Family Fund.

An earlier version of this article misstated the age of Richard Rockefeller, based on incorrect information from a family spokesman. He was 65, not 64.

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