Seven Killed in Plane Crash
Co-Owner of Philadelphia Newspapers Dies in Boston-Area Accident
National Transportation Safety Board senior air safety investigator Luke Schiada speaks during a news conference at Hanscom Field in Bedford, Mass., Sunday, June 1, 2014. The co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper, 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 help restore it to its former glory. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
In this April 12, 2010 photo, New Jersey Nets owners Lewis Katz, right, and Bruce Ratner sit courtside at an NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Bobcats in East Rutherford, N.J. The editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer says co-owner Lewis Katz is among the seven people killed in a plane crash in Massachusetts. Bill Marimow confirmed Katzs death to Philly.com on Sunday, June 1, 2014 saying he learned the news from close associates. The plane crashed and caught fire as it was leaving Hanscom Field while on its way to Atlantic City International Airport. Massachusetts Port Authority spokesman Matthew Brelis says there were no survivors in the crash. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Bedford, Mass. — Lewis Katz, 72, co-owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Daily News and Philly.com, died Saturday night in the crash of a private jet at a Massachusetts airfield.
All seven people, including three crew members, were killed aboard the private aircraft that crashed at Hanscom Field in Bedford, Mass., and erupted into a fireball, authorities said Sunday.
The Gulfstream IV crashed about 9:40 p.m. Saturday as it was departing for Atlantic City International Airport in New Jersey, said Matthew Brelis, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Port Authority, which operates the airfield.
“There were no survivors,” Brelis said.
Nearby residents recounted seeing a fireball and feeling the blast of the explosion shake their homes.
Jeff Patterson told The Boston Globe he saw a fireball about 60 feet in the air and suspected the worst for those aboard the plane.
“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.”
The airfield, which serves the public, was closed after the crash.
Katz attended an education-related event in Concord, Mass., Saturday afternoon at the home of historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and her husband, Richard Goodwin.
Longport, N.J., borough commissioner Daniel Lawler confirmed that Anne Leeds, 74, wife of commissioner James P. Leeds Sr., had been traveling with Katz and others, and perished in the crash.
“We are devastated; it is a major shock,” Lawler said.
Longport Mayor Nicholas Russo said Leeds, a retired teacher in Pennsylvania, was a neighbor of Katz’s in town. Katz invited Leeds on the trip at the last minute Saturday, Russo said.
Also on board was Marcella Dalsey, executive director of the Drew A. Katz Foundation — named after Katz’s son — and president of KATZ Academy Charter School, which she cofounded with Lewis Katz in 2012. Dalsey is a South Jersey native who started her career in real estate investment. In 1995, she opened Gracie’s Ice Cream Parlor in Haddonfield.
The names of the other victims were not released. Nancy Phillips, Katz’s longtime companion and Inquirer city editor, was not on the plane.
Neither was a former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who said he’d been invited by Katz to make the trip but declined because of a speaking engagement he had at the Little Shul, a South Philadelphia synagogue. Rendell said Katz’s death was “mind-blowing.”
On Tuesday, Katz and H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest bought out their partners for $88 million, gaining control of the media company that owns the Inquirer.
“We all deeply mourn the loss of my true friend and fellow investor in ownership of The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Daily News and Philly.com,” Lenfest said. “It is a severe loss, but I am pleased to announce that Drew Katz, Lewis’s son, will replace his father on the board of our new company.”
Katz made his fortune investing in the Kinney Parking empire and the Yankees Entertainment and Sports (YES) Network in New York. He once owned the NBA’s New Jersey Nets and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and is a major donor to Temple University, his alma mater.
“Lewis Katz was an exceptional man, whose presence enriched the lives of everyone he came in contact with,” said Bill Marimow, the Inquirer’s editor. “He never forgot his friends or his roots, giving back generously to the city of Camden, Temple University, Dickinson School of Law, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and countless other organizations.
“He loved his family and his friends and they loved him back in return. We’ve lost a great friend.”
Katz grew up in the Parkside section of Camden, N.J. His father died of a heart attack soon after Katz was born, and his mother raised him on her earnings as a secretary at RCA.
Hanscom Field is about 20 miles northwest of Boston. It was used by the Army Air Corps and military operations dominated until it became both a military and civilian facility in the 1950s. Massport currently manages it as a regional airport serving mostly corporate aviation, private pilots, commuter air services, and some light cargo.
According to FlightAware, a flight web-tracking website, the Gulfstream IV departed Atlantic City International Airport at 2:56 p.m. Saturday and arrived 48 minutes later at 3:44 p.m. at Hanscom Field.
Earlier in the day, the jet departed New Castle County airport near Wilmington, Del., at 1:25 p.m., and arrived eight minutes later at Atlantic City airport at 1:33 p.m.
The Gulfstream IV was registered to Sk Travel L.L.C., in Raleigh, North Carolina, according to FlightAware.
Staff writers Chris Mondics, Amy Rosenberg, Tom Fitzgerald and Linda Loyd contributed to this article.