BEDFORD, Mass. (AP) — Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz was killed along with six other people in a fiery plane crash in Massachusetts, just days after reaching a deal that many hoped would end months of infighting at the newspaper and restore it to its former glory.
His son, Drew, and a business partner confirmed Katz's death in a crash of a Gulfstream IV private jet, which went down on takeoff Saturday night from Hanscom Field outside Boston on its way to Atlantic City, New Jersey. Katz and others were returning from an event at the home of Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.
There were no survivors.
On Tuesday, Katz and Harold H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest struck a deal to gain full control of the Inquirer as well as the Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com by buying out their co-owners for $88 million — an agreement that ended a very public feud over the Inquirer's business and journalism direction.
Lenfest said Sunday that the deal will be delayed but will proceed.
Katz, 72, invited his next-door neighbor Anne Leeds, a retired preschool teacher, to accompany him to Goodwin's house to support an education initiative for Goodwin's son Michael.
James P. Leeds Sr., town commissioner of Longport, New Jersey, said he received a text message from his 74-year-old wife, Anne, just four minutes before the crash saying they were about to take off, he said.
Anne Leeds been invited Saturday by Katz to attend the event, James Leeds said.
The identities of the other victims weren't immediately released. Nancy Phillips, Katz's longtime partner and city editor at the Inquirer, was not aboard the plane.
The plane was carrying three crew members and four passengers, National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson said.
Officials gave no information on the cause of the crash, which sent up a fireball and shook nearby homes.
When bidding on the company, Katz and Lenfest vowed to fund in-depth journalism to revive the Inquirer and to retain its Pulitzer-winning 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."