Lewis Katz, Co-Owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer was killed last night in a plane crash that also took the lives of seven other people on board, including three crew members. The plane crashed late last night in a suburban area of Boston, Massachusetts. The crew and passengers were flying in a private Gulfstream IV aircraft, when it blew up just after take off around 9:40 pm. It had just departed from Hanscom Field in Bedford, Massachusetts which is about 20 miles northwest of Boston.
Jim Peter, a spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration, reported that the passengers on board the fated flight were headed to Atlantic City, New Jersey. John Guilfoil, a spokesperson for the Bedford Police Department reported that emergency crews found the aircraft in flames in a nearby wooded area, after responding to emergency phone calls. Guilfoil reported that the fire was put out and that the scene was now being investigated by a hazardous materials team.
Another passenger was identified as Anne Leeds, wife of James Leeds, a Longport, New Jersey Commissioner. Mayor Nicholas Russo released her name to a local NBC affiliate.
Minimal information was provided by the authorities as of 10:45 this morning when they set up a news briefing. Awaiting arrivals from the National Transportation Safety Board, they yielded to the board to take the lead in conducting a thorough investigation into the cause of the crash. They also reported that no bodies had been taken from the crash scene. The board is scheduled to conduct another briefing later today.
The private aircraft crash that took the life of Philadelphia Inquirer owner Lewis Katz, reportedly took off from the 7000 foot long runway number 11. It has not been determined if the plane ever actually left the runway and transitioned into flight. Additionally, authorities are uncertain as to whether or not the aircraft was in possession of a flight data recorder or voice recorder. Neither are required on a private craft, but mandatory for commercial crafts.
72 year old Katz had just purchased The Philadelphia Inquirer a mere few days ago along with fellow investor H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest. A buy- out totaling 88 Million. The transaction rendered Katz in control of the media company that owns The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Daily News, the Philly.com website, and their printing plant. Previously, there had been a long-running dispute between the former owners about the future direction of the publication. The news organization has been sold five times since 2006. Lenfest reported that Lewis Katz’s son Drew would now step in to replace his father on the board.
Katz and Lenfest were in opposition with the others bidding for control of the organization who were looking to ground the paper in local news coverage as opposed to Katz and Lenfest’s desire to heavily invest in expensive investigative coverage. Having now perished in the plane accident, it’s expected that Lewis Katz’s fellow Philadelphia Inquirer investor will move forward with their vision for the news organization. Katz had expressed that he had extensive plans for the paper and that he was looking forward to making the publication “fatter.”
By Janet Walters Levite