Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner dead in plane crash
PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz was killed along with six other people in a fiery plane crash in Massachusetts, his business partner said Sunday.
Harold H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest confirmed Katz's death to The Associated Press, saying he was informed by their lawyer, Richard Sprague. The pair bought out their partners last week with an $88 million bid for the company, which also operates the Philadelphia Daily News and the news website Philly.com.
The Gulfstream IV crashed as it was leaving Hanscom Field at about 9:40 p.m. Saturday for Atlantic City, New Jersey. There were no survivors.
The identities of the other victims weren't immediately released. Nancy Phillips, Katz's longtime companion and city editor at the Inquirer, was not on board.
Officials gave no information on the cause of the crash. They said the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.
When bidding on the company, Katz and Lenfest vowed to fund in-depth journalism to return the Inquirer to its former glory and to retain its editor, Bill Marimow.
“It's going to be a lot of hard work. We're not kidding ourselves. It's going to be an enormous undertaking,” Katz said then, noting that advertising and circulation revenues had fallen for years. “Hopefully, (the Inquirer) will get fatter.”
Katz, who grew up in Camden, New Jersey, made his fortune investing in the Kinney Parking empire and the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network in New York. He once owned the NBA's New Jersey Nets and the NHL's New Jersey Devils and was a major donor to Temple University, his alma mater.
The fight over the future of the city's two major newspapers was sparked last year by a decision to fire the Inquirer's Pulitzer Prize-winning editor. Katz and Lenfest wanted a judge to block the firing. Katz sued a fellow owner, powerful Democratic powerbroker George Norcross, saying his ownership rights had been trampled. The dispute culminated last week when Katz and Lenfest, a former cable magnate-turned-philanthropist, bought out their partners.
Lenfest said Sunday that the deal to buy out the company will be delayed but will proceed.
Three previous owners of the company, including Norcross, said in a joint statement that they were deeply saddened to hear of Katz's death.
“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,” they said.
When the crash occurred, nearby residents saw a fireball and felt the blast shake their homes.
Jeff Patterson told The Boston Globe he saw a fireball about 60 feet high and suspected the worst.
“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.”
The air field, which serves the public, was closed after the crash. Responders were still on the scene Sunday morning.
Hanscom Field is about 20 miles northwest of Boston. The regional airport serves mostly corporate aviation, private pilots and commuter air services.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Chryst a miserable failure at Pitt
- Banged-up Steelers can clinch with win over Chiefs
- Groom cited at Farmington wedding reception being filmed for reality TV show
- Warning about cop-killer came moments too late
- New York farmers lament lost opportunity for gas riches
- U.S. coal mines nearing record low in worker deaths
- Car wash explosion, fire injures 2 in McDonald
- Butler County initiative aims to find employment for struggling job-seekers
- Westmoreland County furloughs weights and measurements director
- Sony hack signals new, public front in cyber warfare
- Pitt players support Rudolph for job