Four people were killed on Sunday when a Cessna Citation crashed in the mountains of Virginia, after reportedly flying over restricted airspace in Washington, D.C.
The victims included the daughter and 2-year-old granddaughter of Florida-based businessman John Rumpel, who runs Encore Motors of Melbourne Inc., and his wife Barbara, who serves on the executive committee of the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) Women’s Leadership Forum.
The plane, which was registered to Encore Motors, had taken off from Elizabethton, Tennessee, en route to Islip, New York, but inexplicably turned around over Long Island before flying over Washington D.C. and crashing in Montebello, Virginia. The identities of the pilot and other passengers have not been confirmed by authorities.
John Rumpel, who is also a pilot, suggested that the plane may have lost pressurization, leading to an erratic flight path and eventual crash. The crash site was located in the sparsely populated town of Montebello and no survivors were found.
As the Cessna flew over Washington, D.C., the military scrambled a fighter jet, which caused a loud sonic boom that was heard across the capital region. The small aircraft was reportedly not responding to radio transmissions before the crash.
Barbara Rumpel expressed her grief in a Facebook post on Sunday night, writing “My family is gone, my daughter and granddaughter.” Her Facebook page was later made private. John Rumpel lost his daughter Victoria in a scuba-diving accident in 1994 and named an assisted living home in Melbourne after her.