Indian American banker dies in US plane crash (Third Lead)

December 21st, 2011 - 12:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 21 (IANS) An Indian American investment banker was among five people, including two children, killed when a small plane crashed into the middle of one of New Jersey’s busiest highways.

Rakesh Chawla, 36 and Jeffrey Buckalew, 45, heads of Greenhill & Co., a New York City investment firm, died when the aircraft spiralled out of control and crashed in the town of Harding, New Jersey, according to

Besides Buckalew, a licensed pilot and the plane’s owner, his wife, Corinne, and their two young children, Jackson and Meriwether, were also on board the plane that was seen losing a wing before it crashed.

“Jeff was one of the first employees of Greenhill,” said a company statement. “He and Rakesh were extraordinary professionals who were highly respected by colleagues and clients alike.”

A garbled transmission preceded the sudden and devastating plunge, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

A wing from the plane was found in the tree of a home about a quarter-mile from the point of impact, and witnesses said the craft appeared to fall apart in mid-flight. Wreckage was scattered across a half-mile stretch.

The plane, headed for DeKalb Peachtree Airport near Atlanta, disappeared from radar shortly after taking off from nearby Teterboro Airport, said FAA spokesman Jim Peters.

Recovery efforts for the plane crash have been suspended for the night, National Transportation Safety Board senior air safety investigator Robert Gretz told a press conference Tuesday night.

Operations will resume around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, after the morning rush hour, Gretz said.

Tuesday’s crash comes about two weeks after a honeymooning couple from India were killed in the crash of a sightseeing helicopter in rugged terrain about 12 miles east of Las Vegas.

Lovish Bhanot, 28, managing director of Lyca Investment Ltd., a family-run real estate company in Gurgaon, and 26-year-old Anupama Bhola, a flight attendant, were married Nov 6 in Gurgaon.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at

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