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Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz dies in plane crash

Lewis Katz,co-owner of the site, as well as The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Daily News,died Saturday night in a plane crash.

Lewis Katz, Co-Managing Partner, Philadelphia Media Network and former owner of the New Jersey Nets NBA basketball team and the New Jersey Devils NHL hockey team, takes part in a panel discussion titled "Inside the Front Office: A Look at the Business of Sports" at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California in 2012. Credit: Reuters Lewis Katz, Co-Managing Partner, Philadelphia Media Network and former owner of the New Jersey Nets NBA basketball team and the New Jersey Devils NHL hockey team, takes part in a panel discussion titled "Inside the Front Office: A Look at the Business of Sports" at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California in 2012.
Credit: Reuters

UPDATE: 3:42 p.m.

Details are continuing to emerge as the community reacts to the sudden death of Lewis Katz Saturday night along with six others in a small airplane crash.

Another of the victims has been identified as Marcella Dalsey, executive director of the Drew A. Katz Foundation, and president of KATZ Academy Charter School, according to the Inquirer.

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Former Gov. Ed Rendell turned down an invitation to join Katz on the trip to Massachusetts, he told the Inquirer, adding that Katz' death was "mind-blowing."

Attorney General Kathleen Kane tweeted her condolences for the family of Katz and other victims on board the plane.

Gov. Tom Corbett released a statement expressing sorry on behalf of himself and his wife.

“Sue and I are shocked and saddened by the tragic death of our friend, Lewis Katz. His personal warmth, wisdom, and strength of character make his passing a great loss, and his life and friendship a greater treasure," Gov. Corbett said. “The legacy he leaves behind is one of a brilliant businessman with a profound commitment to make a difference, as evidenced by the many civic institutions he supported."

Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke also released a statement expressing sorrow over Katz' death.

“Lewis Katz was truly a great man who wasted little of his time on this earth," Clarke said in his statement.

“A proud Temple University graduate, Lew had many conversations with me about how to improve neighborhoods around the campus perimeter," Clarke's statement continued. "As pleased as he was to see Temple’s tremendous growth over the years, his concern about possible negative impacts on longtime residents was a constant. His death is a terrible loss for the North Philadelphia community."

The Camden County Board of Freeholders, of which Katz was formerly a member, has also released a statement of grief over Katz' passing, citing his work as a Freeholder from 1972 to 1976, his commitment to South Jersey, and his investment in community Boys and Girls Clubs and local churches as part of his record of philanthropy.

UPDATE: 1:55 p.m.

Further reactions and comments about Katz' sudden death have been released this afternoon.

"We are shocked and deeply sorry to hear about the tragic death of Lewis Katz," said Katz's former co-owners at Interstate General Media, George Norcross, William Hankowsky, and Joseph Buckelew in a statement. "Lew's long-standing commitment to the community and record of strong philanthropy across the region, particularly Camden where he was born and raised, will ensure that his legacy will live on."

Katz' son Drew, 42, who will inherit his father's stake in the newspapers, said the death of Katz is compounded by the recent passing of Marjorie Katz, 70, Katz' wife and Drew's mother, although the Katzes had lived apart for many years.

"His sudden passing adds to our family's grief over the recent passing of our beloved mother, Marjorie Katz," Drew Katz said in his statement. "We will miss both of them tremendously but will work to carry on the enormous legacy that they both created."

Lewis Katz' longtime girlfriend, Nancy Philips, city editor at the Inquirer, was not on the plane at the time of the accident.

UPDATE: 1:15 p.m.

The death of newspaper publisher Lewis Katz and six others on Saturday night in a plane crash was revealed to have occurred as passengers Katz and Anne Leeds, the wife of a New Jersey Borough Commissioner, were leaving an event that afternoon at the nearby home of celebrated author Doris Kearns Goodwin, and their destination was Atlantic City in New Jersey, the AP is reporting.

Meanwhile, although the sale to Katz and partner H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest was scheduled to close Thursday, June 12, attorney Richard Spraque, who represented Lenfest and Kataz in the sale, told the Inquirer that former owners including George Norcross had offered a 30-day extension if necessary.

Original story:

Lewis Katz,co-owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com —died Saturday night after a plane crash outside Concord, Massachusetts. He was 72.

Katz was one of seven passengers aboard a private plane, all of whom perished when it crashed during take-off at Hanscom Field in Massachusetts, about 20 miles northwest of Boston. The flight was bound for Atlantic City. The names of the others on board have not yet been released.

A native of Camden, Katz once owned the New Jersey Nets and New Jersey Devils. It was only Tuesday when Katz and H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest bought out their partners for $88 million at a closed auction, regaining control over their newspaper empire.

It was unclear what caused the Gulfstream IV to burst into flames, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash along with Massachusetts State Police.

On Sunday, The Philadelphia Inquirer confirmed that its co-owner, Lewis Katz, 72, was among those killed.

"We've lost a great friend," Inquirer editor Bill Marimow said in a statement to the newspaper.

"I am shocked and deeply saddened to hear this terrible news," Mayor Michael Nutter said in a statement released Sunday morning. "I just talked to Lewis on Wednesday morning to congratulate him and Gerry Lenfest on their winning bid for the newspapers."

The names of the additional victims have not yet been released, though family members told the AP that the wife of a New Jersey borough commissioner is among those killed.

Longport Commissioner James P. Leeds Sr. said his 74-year-old wife, Anne, was on the plane as a guest of Katz. Leeds says he got a text from his wife from the plane at 9:36 p.m., four minutes before the crash.

The fatal crash happened around 9:40 p.m. at Hanscom Field in Bedford, Mass., according to the The Federal Aviation Administration. The runway is located about 20 miles northwest of Boston.

The group was coming from an event that afternoon at the nearby home of celebrated author Doris Kearns Goodwin, held to support an educational program her son is working on, and their destination was Atlantic City in New Jersey, the AP reported.

Hanscom plane crash Boston Lewis Katz A Massachusetts State Trooper at Hanscom Airfield. Photo: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

Matt Brelis, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs the airport, confirmed to the AP that all seven people on the plane were killed.

"There were no survivors," Brelis said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the people on board and their loved ones."

Hanscom Field was closed on Saturday night to remove debris and investigate the crash, an FAA official said.

Sharon Williams, the Hanscom Field director, said that families of the victims were being notified and more information would be released as it became available.

Witnesses recounted seeing a fireball and feeling the blast of the explosion shake their homes.

Jeff Patterson told The Boston Globe he "saw a fireball about 60 feet in the air and suspected the worst for those aboard the plane."

‘‘I heard a big boom, and I thought at the time that someone was trying to break into my house because it shook it,’’ said Patterson’s son, 14-year-old Jared Patterson. ‘‘I thought someone was like banging on the door trying to get in.’’

Reuters contributed to this report.

Morgan Rousseau contributed to this report.

 
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