NELSON COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A total of four people were killed after a business jet crashed in mountainous terrain Sunday afternoon in Nelson County.
The Cessna Citation 560 jet was registered to Encore Motors of Melbourne Inc., a company based in Florida. The listed president of the company is Barbara Rumpel.
John Rumpel, a pilot who runs the company, told the New York Times and Newsday, that his daughter, Adina Azarian, 49, and 2-year-old granddaughter Aria, were two of the victims in the Nelson County crash. He said his family was returning to their home on Long Island, after visiting his house in North Carolina.
Azarian, 49, was reportedly well-known in New York real estate circles and was raising her daughter as a single parent.
“Being a mom was everything to her,” said Tara Brivic-Looper, a close friend who grew up with Azarian. “That they were together [at the end] is fitting.”
The Rumpel family was prominent in the city of Melbourne, Australia. The current mayor of Melbourne, Paul Alfrey, released a statement on his official Facebook page yesterday.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to the Rumpel family for the tragic loss this weekend,” the post reads. “Both John and Barbara are well known for their strong commitment to our community and have been for many years. I would ask that you keep the family in your prayers.”
According to WESH 2 News, this is not the first tragedy the family has endured. According to the website for another family business, John Rumpel lost another daughter — a 19-year-old named Victoria — in a scuba diving accident.
According to authorities, the business jet took off from Elizabethton, Tennessee, and was headed to Long Island McArthur Airport in New York. During the flight, the airplane became unresponsive, prompting F-16 fighter jets to be deployed from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland around 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 4.
The FAA originally reported that the plane crashed around 3:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, however, a defense official told ABC News the crash occurred closer to 3:50 p.m. According to ABC, the fighter jet interception occurred around 3:20 p.m. approximately 20 miles northeast of Reagan National Airport. The F-16s then accompanied the Cessna plane for about half an hour before it crashed. The plane crashed approximately 2-3 miles north of Montebello, Virginia, in heavily wooded and rural terrain.
Hours later, police and rescuers reached the site of the plane crash in the Shenandoah Valley. According to police, there were no survivors found.