BEDFORD -- The flight crew killed in the fiery crash of Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz's small plane had worked together for a decade, and included a pilot who once survived a fatal crash.

The jet crashed Saturday during takeoff near Boston, killing Katz, three guests and three crew members.

Spouses confirmed the deaths Monday of co-pilot Bauke (BOW'-kee) "Mike" de Vries of Marlton, New Jersey, and flight attendant Teresa Benhoff of Easton, Maryland.

Shelly de Vries says her 45-year-old husband was once a passenger in a crash that killed another pilot. She says he had no memory of it, and still loved to fly.

NTSB investigators today at scene of Saturday’s crash of a Gulfstream business jet in Bedford, Mass.
NTSB investigators today at scene of Saturday's crash of a Gulfstream business jet in Bedford, Mass. (NTSB)

Massachusetts authorities have identified the co-pilot as 51-year-old James McDowell of Georgetown, Delaware. His family is declining to comment.

Relatives say all had worked for Katz at least 10 years.

An airport employee watched as the Gulfstream IV jet raced past the end of a runway, plunged down an embankment and erupted in flames.

The witness account of the Saturday night crash that killed all seven people aboard provided some of the first clues as investigators began piecing together what went wrong during the attempted takeoff from a runway surrounded by woods in Bedford.

Luke Schiada, a National Transportation Safety Board investigator, said the airport employee who saw the crash reported the jet never left the ground.


It came to rest 2,000 feet from the end of the paved runway.

Schiada said officials were looking for the plane's cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder. He said they would review the pilots' experience and the aircraft's maintenance history. Investigators also are looking for surveillance video that may have captured the crash at Hanscom Field, which is attached to the Hanscom Air Force Base complex.

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Investigators are now saying a preliminary report will come forward in 10 days and a press conference with more information is planned for Monday afternoon.

"We're at the very beginning of the investigation," Schiada added.

He noted investigators are working swiftly to gather as much evidence as possible so outside factors don't affect the group's review of the case. He said the location of the burned and mangled plane wreckage, in a gully filled with water, complicated the initial examination and the recovery effort.

State police troopers and divers were among those searching for items from the wreckage Sunday night.

The private plane was carrying four passengers, two pilots and a cabin attendant, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The aircraft, which crashed at 9:40 p.m. Saturday night, was headed for Atlantic City International Airport in New Jersey.

Ed Freni, director of aviation for the Massachusetts Port Authority, said the bodies of the victims remained among the wreckage for hours Sunday until NTSB investigators arrived to review the scene. The Middlesex County District Attorney's office said it won't officially release the identities of the victims until the medical examiner concludes autopsies.

However, various news outlets have identified the non-crew passengers as Katz, 72, co-owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Daily News and, and three of his friends - Anne Leeds, 74, who was a neighbor of Katz; Marcella Dalsey, 59, a mother of four and the executive director of a Katz family charitable foundation; and Susan Asbell, 68, a mother of two.

Leeds, of Longport, N.J., was invited to travel to Atlantic City by Katz "last-minute," according to family. Both she and Katz attended a large educational fundraiser Saturday afternoon in the Concord home of Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.

In the wake of the fatal plane crash, environmental concerns also arose as jet fuel reportedly leaked from the site. Freni confirmed in a press conference that those hazardous materials had since been cleaned up. Bedford Town Manager Richard Reed, Police Chief Robert Bongiorno and Fire Chief David Grunes added that there was no threat to the town's water supply Sunday.

An aviation expert told New England Cable News there are several explanations for what sparked the explosion on the plane. Nearby residents reported spotting "a fireball" soar through the sky. Officials have not speculated publicly on what caused the crash at his time.

"The engine could implode, if you will," said Steve Cunningham, of Nashua Flight Simulator in New Hampshire. "A turbine wheel could separate. There could be a fire in the combustion chamber. Or a fuel leak could also create a fire of that nature."

Hanscom Field was used by the Army Air Corps and military operations, until it became both a military and civilian facility in the 1950s. Massport currently manages it as a regional airport serving mostly corporate aviation, private pilots, commuter air services and some light cargo.

Dozens are mourning the loss of their family and friends on board the flight. Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said Sunday he was invited to ride on the plane by Katz this Saturday but had another commitment. Rendell said he had flown on the same plane about two dozen times since 2011, though.

"The reason I'm mystified is, those pilots maintained the plane like it was their life and death," he said.

Dalsey's daughter, Chelsea Dalsey, said her mother was also on the plane, but declined to comment further. Marcella Dalsey was also president of KATZ Academy Charter school, which she founded with Lewis Katz, and is the former owner of an ice-cream shop in Haddonfield, N.J., a suburb of Philadelphia.

Last Tuesday, Katz and Harold H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest struck a deal to gain full control of The Inquirer, as well as The Daily News and, 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.

Information from the Associated Press was included in this report.

This is a developing story and will be updated throughout the day. For up-to-the-minute information, follow reporter Samantha Allen on Twitter and Tout @SAllen_89.