A private plane of a leading Indian-American doctor crashed in the backyard of a suburban Philadelphia home on Thursday morning, killing both the husband and wife and their 19-year-old daughter, who were the only people on board, authorities said.
The victims have been identified as 60-year-old Dr Jasvir Khurana, his wife, 54-year-old Dr Divya Khurana, and their daughter, Kiran Khurana. The family has one surviving daughter who was not on the plane, according to media reports.
Khurana, a licensed pilot, was at the controls of the 44-year-old aircraft, Bonanza, which was registered to him, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The husband-and-wife physician-researchers were both trained at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and moved to the United States more than two decades ago.
The National Transportation Security Board (NTSB) said the plane left Northeast Philadelphia Airport shortly after 6 am and was heading to The Ohio State University Airport in Columbus. The flight lasted for about three minutes before the single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft went down. The plane’s final destination was supposed to be St. Louis, according to media reports.
The plane hit several trees before it stopped, and the debris was spread across four backyards, said Upper Moreland Police Chief Michael Murphy.
Police arrived at the crash site shortly after receiving a 911 call around 6:20 am and found the bodies of all three family members.
“It crashed into a yard and eventually continued on and hit several trees and a shed in a yard before coming to rest in the woods,” he said.
“It’s a strictly residential neighborhood. I don’t know what the pilot was thinking or what he was doing but it is a miracle that no homes were struck,” Murphy added.
Dr. Khurana was a faculty member in the Department of Pathology at Temple University where he studied bone pathology.
“Dr. Khurana has been a valued faculty member in the Department of Pathology at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University since 2002. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones,” the university said in a statement.
His wife, Divya Khurana, was a pediatric neurologist at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and a professor at Drexel University College of Medicine.
“They were just wonderful, lovely, sweet neighbours,” said Faith Stander who lives a few doors down from the Khuranas.
Adam Gerhardt, an air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board said that the investigation would last several days. A preliminary report is expected in 10 to 15 days, and a final report within a year, he added.
There is no indication the pilot made a distress call and the plane was only in the air about three minutes before the crash, Gerhardt also said.