Rockefeller great-grandson dies in NY plane crash
FILE - In this April 12, 1999 file photo, Dr. Richard Rockefeller speaks at a news conference in Portland, Maine, about his family's pledge of $3.2 million to the Maine chapter of the Nature Conservancy for its purchase of land on the Upper St. John River. A family spokesman said Rockefeller was killed Friday, June 13, 2014, after crashing his small plane near the Westchester County Airport in Purchase, N.Y. Richard Rockfeller, of Falmouth, Maine, was a great grandson of Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)
Emergency vehicles and personnel stand near a command post set up for a small plane that crashed on a road just west of Westchester County Airport, Friday, June 13, 2014, in Purchase, N.Y. The single-engine plane took off just after 8 a.m. and went down after hitting some trees, killing Richard Rockefeller, a great grandson of Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
PORTLAND, ME - DECEMBER 30, 1997: Dr. Richard Rockefeller outside the Maine Time Dollar Network, December 30, 1997. Note: Best resolution available. (Photo by Doug Jones/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Sen. John D. Rockefeller, D-W.Va., right, points to something in the hearing room as he sits next to Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014, before the starts of a heating to examine the future of unmanned aviation in the United States. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Financier John D. Rockeffer strolling w. son John D. Jr. (R) (Photo by Time Life Pictures/Pix Inc./Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 26: John D. Rockefeller, Sr. and his son John, Jr. leave a wedding in Greenwich, Connecticut. (Photo by Paul Levine/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
By ULA ILNYTZKY and PATRICK WHITTLE
NEW YORK (AP) -- A small plane crashed outside New York City on Friday, killing a great grandson of Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller, a family spokesman said.
The single-engine plane took off from Westchester County Airport just after 8 a.m. Friday and narrowly missed a house west of the airfield before hitting some trees, officials said.
Richard Rockefeller, of Falmouth, Maine, was the only person on board the Portland, Maine-registered aircraft.
The 65-year-old was a doctor and father of two, family spokesman Fraser Seitel said. He had recently been working on a way to treat post-traumatic stress disorder in wounded war veterans, Seitel said.
"It's a terrible tragedy," Seitel said. "Richard was a wonderful cherished son, brother, father and grandfather."
Rockefeller was a nephew of former Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller, who also was governor of New York from 1959 to 1973. On Thursday, Richard Rockefeller ate dinner with his father, banker and philanthropist David Rockefeller, in Westchester to celebrate the family patriarch's 99th birthday, Seitel said.
Seitel described him as an experienced pilot whose death left the family in shock.
The plane, a Piper Meridian, crashed in the hamlet of Purchase, a New York City bedroom community of about 10,000 residents that houses a State University of New York campus.
The airport was closed for a short time after the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration was investigating, and the National Transportation Safety Board was expected to arrive later.
An FAA control tower notified that the aircraft was missing from their radar and an emergency response was initiated.
At the time of the crash, the weather was foggy and visibility was about a quarter-mile, police and airport officials said at a news conference. Pilots of private planes make the decision about whether to fly in such conditions, officials said.
After narrowly missing the house, the plane hit some pine trees and crashed in a yard. The aircraft broke up into many pieces, which were strewn about the property, with some parts lodged in the trees.
Officials said there was no indication of a mayday or problem.
Rockefeller chaired the United States Advisory Board for Doctors Without Borders for more than 20 years, ending in 2010. He was involved in numerous other nonprofit activities.
"Every aspect of his life was to advance the well-being of the world," said Tim Glidden, president of Maine Coast Heritage Trust, where Rockefeller served as board chairman from 2000 to 2006.
Rockefeller is survived by his wife, Nancy, and their children, Clayton and Rebecca.
Whittle reported from Portland, Maine.