Shock Follows Plane Crash Deaths of Three From Longport, Margate
The shocking news spread quickly around Downbeach Sunday. Three prominent residents of Absecon Island were among those died Saturday evening in the fiery crash of a private plane headed for Atlantic City international Airport.
Luke Schiada, a senior air safety investigator at the NTSB, said there is no indication at this point that there was a verbal distress call from the cockpit of the Gulfstream IV as it was leaving Hanscom Field, about 20 miles northwest of Boston, about 9:40 p.m. Saturday. A witness also said the aircraft never became airborne, Schiada added.
Lewis Katz, 72, co-owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com, was among the dead, according to the Inquirer. Just last week, Katz and H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest bought out their partners for $88 million, gaining control of the media company that owns the Inquirer. He is a former owner of the NBA‘s New Jersey Nets and the NHL‘s New Jersey Devils.
The wife of a New Jersey borough commissioner was also among the victims. James P. Leeds Sr. confirmed Sunday that his 74-year-old wife, Anne, died Saturday night in the Massachusetts crash. Leeds is a Longport town commissioner.
Leeds says he got a text from his wife from the plane at 9:36 p.m., four minutes before the crash.
Anne Leeds was a neighbor at Katz’s summer home in Longport.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Susan Asbell, 68, of Cherry Hill and Margate also died in the crash. She was a member of the planning committee of The Boys and Girls Club of Camden County, as well as the wife of former Camden County Prosecutor Samuel Asbell.
Marcella M. Dalsey, 59 of Haddonfield also died in the crash. She was the executive director of the Drew A. Katz Foundation and president of the KATZ Academy Charter School.
The plane’s three member crew all died in the Saturday’s crash.
The traveling party flew to Massachusetts earlier Saturday to attend a fund-raising event at the Boston-area home of historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.The event was to promote an educational program created by Michael Goodwin.
According to CNN, Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a close friend of Katz’s, was invited to go on the trip but declined due to a planned speaking engagement in Philadelphia.
Katz, who was an attorney in addition to his business ventures, was also a prolific philanthropist.
His alma mater, Temple University, announced that it would rename the medical school in his honor after a $25 million gift in 2013.
Katz’s philanthropy was responsible for the building of The Milton and Betty Katz JCC in Margate, named for his parents.
Two buildings at Pennsylvania State University — where Katz went to law school — also bear his name.
Katz was also active in his native Camden, New Jersey, where he founded two charter schools and supported a number of charities as well as youth, educational, religious and civic causes.
Katz was also a part owner of the Longport Media Group, with South Jersey radio stations WMGM, WOND, and WTKU.