MELBOURNE, Fla. - The passengers on board a deadly Virginia plane crash have ties to Central Florida. The crash triggered a sonic boom and claimed the lives of four people on Sunday.
The plane was registered to the Rumpel family of Melbourne who are known by many as Second Amendment champions who invested tremendously on the Space Coast. Sadly, this isn’t the family’s first loss.
John’s daughter died in a scuba diving accident when she was just 19. Since then, the couple started a care facility, Victoria’s Landing, in her name and honor.
"The entire community, the shooting community, and beyond have heartfelt condolences for them. I mean, I can’t even imagine getting that phone call in the middle of the night to tell you your family is dead," said Catherine Barney, who knows the Rumpels through the Space Coast Friends of the National Rifle Association of America (NRA) and has the utmost respect for them.
Since learning the news, shock, and sadness are setting in for Barney, saying they’re some of the kindest people she knows and always giving to others.
"They are well known not only in our state but across the country, as well," Barney added. "They have made some very positive impacts over the years."
Virginia State Police arrive in crash site after small plane crashed in a mountainous area in the state of Virginia on Sunday following reports of a sonic boom near the US capital, Washington, D.C. on June 05, 2023. (Photo by Celal Gunes/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
On Sunday afternoon, the plane registered to John Rumpel crashed in the mountains of Virginia. It was unresponsive and at one point was dropping at a rate of more than 30,000 feet per minute.
"Something happened likely early in the flight to render the people incapacitated," said Scott Wagner who’s an assistant professor of aeronautical science at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
The investigation is just beginning, but aviation experts say pressurization issues could be to blame, and the crash has similar characteristics to another Central Florida tragedy.
"Every several years, it seems something like this does happen," Wagner added. "Famous golfer, Payne Stewart, had a similar incident back over 20 years ago now."
Barbara and John Rumpel weren’t on the plane, but reports show their daughter, granddaughter, and a nanny were on board.
"It’s not the natural course of life to bury your children. Your children bury you. Your children, you don’t bury them," Barney said holding back tears. "I can’t even imagine, but they should know – we are there."
As for what’s next, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are still going through the rubble and trying to figure out what exactly caused the crash.
A spokesperson at Victoria’s Landing says they’re devastated by their founder’s loss and the family is asking for privacy during this time