HAMPTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP/KDKA) — A CMU trustee who traveled to space with William Shatner last month was killed along with another person when a small plane crashed in northern New Jersey, according to state police.
Glen M. de Vries, 49, of New York City, and Thomas P. Fischer, 54, of Hopatcong, were aboard the single-engine Cessna 172 that went down Thursday in a wooded area of Hampton Township.
The aircraft had departed from Essex County Airport in Caldwell and was headed to Sussex Airport when the Federal Aviation Administration alerted public safety agencies to look for the missing plane around 3 p.m. Emergency crews found the wreckage around 4 p.m., the FAA said.
De Vries founded Medidata Solutions, a tech company, and was a graduate and trustee at Carnegie Mellon University. He traveled Oct. 13 aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard spacecraft, spending more than 10 minutes in space after launching along with Shatner and others.
"I've had people who have known me since I was in second grade, even some in kindergarten, and said, 'I can't believe you're finally going to space. You've been talking about it your whole life,'" de Vries told KDKA last month before takeoff.
Blue Origin called de Vries' death devastating.
"He brought so much life and energy to the entire Blue Origin team and to his fellow crewmates. His passion for aviation, his charitable work, and his dedication to his craft will long be revered and admired," a statement on Twitter read.
On Twitter, Jeff Bezos said de Vries was a "visionary, and an innovator -- a true leader."
In a letter to the CMU community, de Vries is remembered as a "tireless advocate for his alma mater."
"The entire Carnegie Mellon University community is devastated by the loss of alumnus and trustee Glen de Vries, and our hearts go out to his family, friends and loved ones," said CMU President Farnam Jahanian in a statement. "Glen was one of CMU's greatest champions and advocates, especially for the future of science initiative at the university. His passing is a profound loss for this community and for a world that has already benefitted so much from his brilliance and compassion."
Fischer owned and was the head instructor at his family-run flight school, Fischer Aviation.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.
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