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Man who went to space with William Shatner dies in plane crash

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Actor William Shatner of the famed "Star Trek" TV series blasted off on a speedy trip to space, a guest of Trekkie Jeff Bezos and his Blue Origin space travel company. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

HAMPTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — A man who traveled to space with William Shatner last month was killed along with another person when the small plane they were in crashed in a wooded area of northern New Jersey, according to state police.

The one-time space tourist Glen M. de Vries, 49, of New York City, and Thomas P. Fischer, 54, of Hopatcong, were aboard the single-engine Cessna 172 that went down Thursday.

De Vries was an instrument-rated private pilot, and Fischer owned a flight school. Authorities have not said who was piloting the small plane.

Plane Crash Space Traveler Dies

Glen de Vries, among four passengers on Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket, arrives for a media availability at the spaceport near Van Horn, Texas, on Oct. 13, 2021. He died in the crash of a single-engine Cessna 172 that went down Thursday in a wooded area of New Jersey.

The plane had left Essex County Airport in Caldwell, on the edge of the New York City area, and was headed to Sussex Airport, in rural northwestern New Jersey, when the Federal Aviation Administration alerted public safety agencies to look for the missing plane around 3 p.m.

Emergency crews found the wreckage in Hampton Township around 4 p.m., the FAA said.

De Vries, co-founder of a tech company, traveled Oct. 13 aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard spacecraft, spending more than 10 minutes in space after launching along with Shatner and others aboard a ship built by Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin company.

"It's going to take me a while to be able to describe it. It was incredible," de Vries said as he got his Blue Origin "astronaut wings" pinned onto his blue flight suit by Bezos.

Plane Crash- Space Traveler Dies

Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket latest space passengers, from left, Audrey Powers, William Shatner, Chris Boshuizen, and Glen de Vries raise their hands during a media availability at the spaceport near Van Horn, Texas, on Oct. 13, 2021..

"We are devastated to hear of the sudden passing of Glen de Vries," Blue Origin tweeted Friday. "He brought so much life and energy to the entire Blue Origin team and to his fellow crewmates. His passion for aviation, his charitable work, and his dedication to his craft will long be revered and admired."

De Vries co-founded Medidata Solutions, a software company specializing in clinical research, and was the vice chair of life sciences and health care at Dassault Systemes, which acquired Medidata in 2019. He had taken part in an auction for a seat on the first flight and bought a seat on the second trip.

De Vries also served on the board of Carnegie Mellon University.

Fischer owned the flight school Fischer Aviation and was its chief instructor, according to the company's website.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

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