4 dead in crash, including NRA exec’s relatives, after plane went into restricted airspace — leading to F-16s being scrambled

Gun Rights

A sonic boom was heard across the Washington, DC, area Sunday afternoon when military jets raced after an unresponsive private plane that crossed into restricted airspace and later crashed, killing all four people onboard. 

The deafening boom rang out when two F-16 fighter jets were scrambled from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland to investigate the aircraft that was not responding to radio transmissions shortly after 3 p.m., according to the Department of Defense.

Residents around the capital and surrounding communities were left bewildered until more information came out.

The F-16s were deployed after the private Cessna flew into restricted airspace over the capital before it crashed in southwest Virginia.

The fighter jets saw that the pilot of the plane appeared to have passed out, a US official told ABC News.


Barbara Rumpel (L) and her granddaughter and daughter.
Barbara Rumpel (left) confirmed that her daughter and granddaughter died in the crash.
Barbara Weimer Rumpel/ Facebook

Authorities secure the entrance to Mine Bank Trail, an access point to the rescue operation along the Blue Ridge Parkway where a Cessna Citation crashed over mountainous terrain near Montebello, Va., Sunday, June 4, 2023.
Authorities secure the entrance to Mine Bank Trail, an access point to the rescue operation along the Blue Ridge Parkway where a Cessna Citation crashed over mountainous terrain near Montebello, Va., on June 4, 2023.
AP

Rescuers were able to reach the site of the plane crash hours later on foot in a rural part of Shenandoah Valley, and no survivors were found, according to police.

The aircraft departed Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Elizabethton, Tennessee, heading for Long Island MacArthur Airport in New York, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. 

It had reached the New York area before making a nearly 180-degree turn and flying toward Virginia, according to the flight-tracking website Flight Aware.

It’s not clear why the plane was nonresponsive or why it crashed.

The jet dropped at a rapid rate, at one point falling more than 30,000 feet per minute before crashing.

The Cessna appeared to be flying on autopilot, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.


A large sonic boom startled the Washington, D.C. area after a fighter jet took off from Joint Base Andrews, in Maryland.
A large sonic boom startled the Washington, DC, area after a fighter jet took off from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.
Photo by DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images

The two F-16s were allowed to travel at supersonic speeds, causing the sonic boom that was heard across the region, the North American Aerospace Defense Command said in a statement, according to the New York Times.

The owner of the company where the plane was registered told the Times Sunday that his daughter, 2-year-old granddaughter and their nanny, as well as the pilot, were on the doomed plane on their way back to their East Hampton home.

John Rumpel, of Encore Motors of Melbourne Inc., said they were returning to New York after visiting him in North Carolina.


Barbara Rumpel (L), a businesswoman and member of the NRA Women's Leadership Form, posted to Facebook Sunday, confirming that her daughter and granddaughter died in the crash.
John and Barbara Rumpel, who donated $250,000 to the Trump Victory PAC in 2020, said their daughter and granddaughter were returning from visiting them in North Carolina.
Barbara Weimer Rumpel/ Facebook

Rumpel's granddaughter who was tragically killed in the crash.
The Rumpels’ granddaughter was only 2 years old.
Barbara Weimer Rumpel/ Facebook

He told the newspaper he didn’t have much information but suggested the plane may have lost pressurization.

The 75-year-old, who is a pilot himself, said he hoped his family didn’t suffer in the wreckage as his voice broke.

He added that if the plane lost pressurization, “they all just would have gone to sleep and never woke up,” according to the publication. 


Search and rescue teams leave the command post at St. Mary's Wilderness en route to the Blue Ridge Parkway to search for the site where a Cessna Citation crashed over mountainous terrain near Montebello, Va., Sunday, June 4, 2023.
Search and rescue teams leave the command post at St. Mary’s Wilderness en route to the Blue Ridge Parkway to search for the site where a Cessna Citation crashed over mountainous terrain near Montebello, Va., on June 4, 2023.
AP

Rumpel’s wife, Barbara Weimer Rumpel, posted photos of their daughter and granddaughter on Facebook.

“My family is gone, my daughter and granddaughter,” she wrote. 

Barbara Rumpel is known for her work advocating for gun rights and has been a member of the NRA’s Women’s Leadership Council since 2002 and an executive committee member of the council since 2012, according to LinkedIn.


The jet was taking off to intercept a plane that crashed in Virginia.
@AnnapolisOEM

The couple is also politically active and together have donated to numerous Republicans running for federal office in the past few years — including $250,000 to the Trump Victory PAC in 2020, online records show.

The sonic boom, which occurs after a vehicle breaks the sound barrier at 767 mph, could be heard throughout the capital, and cities in Maryland and northern Virginia, with many taking to Twitter to question the noise that rattled their homes.

“It was loud enough to shake my f—king coffee table,” local Matt Cox tweeted following the boom. “Thank God there isn’t an infant in the house.”


The sign for Joint Base Andrews is seen on March 26, 2021, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md.
Joint Base Andrews at Andrews Air Force Base, Md.
AP

Washington’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency said earlier in the day the boom was heard across the National Capital Region, but that “there is no threat at this time.”

Officials also made clear that the Cessna was not shot down by a military jet.

The crash is under investigation by the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board.

With Post wires

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