Buckalew family killed in plane crash

Two St. Anne's-Belfield School students have died along with their parents in the crash of a private plane along a busy highway in New Jersey. Jackson, a fifth-grade boy, and Meriwether, a first-grade girl, perished along with their mother, Corinne, and their father, Jeffrey F. Buckalew, who led an arm of a leading mergers and acquisitions firm.

The Buckalews had divided their time between Manhattan and Eagle Hill, a sprawling estate in Free Union.

According to news accounts, the crash took place shortly after 10am Tuesday, December 20, over horrified drivers on Interstate 287. Witnesses reportedly described a single-engine turboprop plane that seemed to weave erratically before breaking apart and crashing into a wooded median.

Also killed in the crash was one of Mr. Buckalew's colleagues at New York-based Greenhill & Co., Rakesh Chawla, a University of Virginia alumnus. An onboard dog also reportedly died in the crash.

“The firm is in deep mourning over the tragic and untimely death of two of its esteemed colleagues and members of Jeff’s family," reads a statement from Greenhill, which notes that pilot Buckalew, one of its first employees, had a passion for flying.

Mr. Buckalew is believed to have been operating the single-engine plane, which reported mid-air icing and which appeared to have suffered catastrophic component failure before impact.

A graduate of the University of North Carolina, Mr. Buckalew served on that university's Board of Visitors while Mrs. Buckalew, the former Corinne Stickley of Greensboro, served on the board of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Having recently made their home in Albemarle, the two joined the Monticello Cabinet, a group of high-level donors to the third president's home.

Note: An earlier version of this story used the term "mechanical failure" which gives a causal impression, so the more reserved statement about "catastrophic component failure" was substituted to more accurately convey the body of preliminary information.

Read more on: jeff buckalew



Oh my god, I used to babysit those kids. This is horrific

so sad. the boy was the same age and had the same name as my son. RIP.

So, Hawes, how do you feel about harrassing Mr. Buckalew over his investments in your recent interview?

OMG--the children were friends of my grandkids before my family moved to England for business.
My daughter Birgit always said that the Buckalews were THEE nicest people.

Gee, Maxwell....perhaps you should have loaned Mr. Spencer your crystal ball. Don't be a low-class, oppotunistic putz. This family's tragedy is best left out of your petty political drive-by.

This is a tragic accident, which will take the FAA and NTSB 6-12 months to uncover the facts which may have had caused the accident.

People in the general aviation community called the Beachcraft Bonanza (a high end single engine plane) "The Doctor Killer" because of the high accident rate. The accidents were almost always due to pilot error, usually turning stalls at low altitude. A wealthy person can buy such a craft and get a license easily, but, lacking the professional training, is at risk.
Kinda like a kid with a crotch rocket.
Of course we won't hear for awhile what caused this accident, but bets are on pilot error.

So, icing probably initiated the accident. Two investment bankers killed. A shame about the kids and the dog.

I'm sure Mr Buckalew was a very competent pilot and the plane he was flying was not one flown by your typical weekend, low-time private pilot. That plane is a jet-prop and can run upwards of $3 million dollars, depending on how it's equipped. I think it's a disservice to his remaining family members (at least a brother from what I've read) to imply he was some kind of irresponsible yahoo. Accidents happen and even the finest planes can sometimes not deal with extreme icing conditions. Monday morning quarterbacks are ALWAYS right.

Hey E-ville, don't be so sure that money can buy you prudence and safety. I seem to remember another rich dude who decided to try a flight from NYC to Nantucket. Admittedly, that guy might not have had the brains of Bucky, but he had the equipment. Never made it to the Vineyard. Remember, you're MM QBing as much as anyone. I think the dude in the photo looks a tad like a lighter-weight Brian Wilson.
R.I.P.: Jack Cassidy

@Liberalace: JFK Jr was flying a Piper Saratoga (NO de-icing equipment) and didn't even have an instrument rating to cope with the IFR conditions he found himself in. To compare his piloting skills and the plane he was piloting to Mr Buckalew's is like comparing apples and hunks of charcoal. There is NO comparison. Do you even have a pilot's license? I doubt it.

I forgot to add: If one were to cancel a flight because of possible icing conditions, our skies would have 90% less air traffic, especially in the northeast.

I was an acquaintance of Jeff when he and I were members of the University Club in New York City. Jeff was one of my first friends in the club. He was a wonderful, wonderful guy--soft-spoken, gentlemanly, and you just knew beneath his quiet surface there lies a brilliant, self-effacing individual. Jeff resigned from the Club in 2002, but he remained in Manhattan, and we used to bump into each other on the street, now and then, and chatted for a bit. The earth is a sadder place without Jeff Buckalew. Prayers to his extended family.

Can anyone tell me (via email is preferable ...it is brucebeemer45@live.com) if Mr. Buckalew's parents are/were Jeff and Susan, living in the Atlanta area. Jeff (the older) is a fraternity brother of mine and I'd like to reach out if the circumstances indicate.

Thank you.

bruce, not positive, but another news report did mention they were flying to atlanta to visit relatives....

Highly likely that this will be attributed to pilot error/over confidence

ATC audio available below


Weather pattern available below


So Maxwell, what the deal here? You think Spencer should apologize to the spirits for asking tough questions of a playa in the investment banking business just because the guy is dead? UR not one of those guys who thinks we should ask forgiveness of the dead 'cuz maybe they'll put in a bad word about us with the "big guy" are you? Gnomane???

O.K. I have endured the classs warfare comments to this news link for several years, but the comments that charcterize this tragedy "as another rich dude who decided to try a flight from _____ to _____ " [Liberace] compel me to respond , even as I have restrained from doing so before now.

First, Jeff was a friend, a passionate and extremely accomplished pilot with over 1,000 hours of exprience WITH THIS EQIPMENT alone, and many thousands of hours flying generally. Second, accidents happen to good people. Third, this was not a Beecraft Banzana or "Doctor Killer" [Angel Eyes] but a highly sophisticated aircraft that Jeff was skilled in commanding. [Angel eyes, I would venture that your most sophisticated piece of equipment is your laptop with which you spew hatred and misenthropic information]. Fourth, this tragedy is not about the loss of "two investment bankers" [Angel Eyes] but about the loss of/to highly productive, generous, and telented people and their families. What makes this newsworthy to us locally is that Jeff and Corrine were, in additon to be extremely talented, generous with both their time and resources to causes that make difference to all of us. Mr. Chawla, (age 36!) who left a widow and three children under the age of 6, gave generously to his alma mater and led in the recruitment of telented and ethical leaders from the U.Va.McIntire School, among others.

The accident itself is really no different than the family tragety involving a pickup truck that hits an icey patch on a country road [the odds of occurence being much higher in the icey road incident than in the aircraft accident]. The difference for this media [and oftentimes, the Hook perspective] is that class status is involved and perhaps that is the true tragedy or injury, above all.

What makes this newsworthy, and at the same time tragic, is the loss of talent and potential that these lives offered to our human endeavor. This is personal, but there was more talent and potential to improve the lives of all of us in the finger nails of Jeff and Corrine, and Rakesh than in all the total being of the haters and 'class warriors' combined.

Hey, enough;
Sounds like UR saying its 2 bad they died cuz they had lottsa moneys and that makes it more bad than if they was poor folk, gnomane?
And hey, I know he was skilled at flying that plane, we all know how that worked out.
U know people like me write this stuff just to stir folks up like U?

O.K. You got me. Maybe you just write the hate to stir folks up. But, if you believe what you write ( and I hope that you don't), then you will never amount to anything that matters, never make a difference in anyone else's lives, always live on food stamps or whatever it is you need from others because you are incapable of providing for yourself and your family and use made up words like 'cuz' and 'U' because you are too ignorant or lazy to use word that we learned in the third grade. Its not about money, its about talent and you display none of it with your post.

Why did I know this was gonna end up in a pissen contest?


I understand your frustration about some of the ugliness here, but the truth is, that goes from top to bottom. I recall a dinner attended by President Bush where he and a number of the very wealthy were laughing in an ugly way about the "haves and the have mores." ( I was not there, I saw the video, I have better things to do with my money.)

I did not know Mr Buckalew, and he might have been the soul of generosity and geniality, but he was part of Wall Street, which stinks to high heaven for good reason. It behooves those on Wall Street who do not stink to stand out against their associates who do, and work to clean it up, not close ranks and cry class warfare and dump venom on those below. Especially when those below were asked to pay for the cleanup, though they had no role in the demise.

So I can't say I am surprised at this reaction.

My only response to your comment on talent is this:

If all those on Wall Street were really so talented, why did it all fall apart? Why the need for the selling of toxic assets to investors? How did all these super bright talented folks miss the risk?

Or did they? Were many of them really just very talented thieves?

Had the competitive market been allowed to work, those talented folks on Wall street would have lost everything, and would be the ones at the bottom of the pile now.

What is sad about this accident is it shows how damaged this country has been by Americans being pitched by big interested into biting each other, instead of working together to produce the best stuff in the world.

I think flying, even the small planes is still safer than driving. If I had a plane, I would sure use it for trips, can't fault anyone on that. Terrible accident nonetheless, I guess when your time comes...like the Amish girl that got shot in the head by an idiot who fired his gun in the air a mile and half away in Ohio. Enjoy everyday you have.

Enoughisenough- you are correct. The NTSB and FAA will dig for the facts and findings, and if they are able, determine a probable cause,without specualtion,of this tragic accident.

There are many things to look at in that determination- proficiency in the aircraft and conditions, possible equipment malfunction, weather, flight preparation- too numerous to list here.

Sadly, aviation, like many other activites, tends to equalize everyone, regardless of their financial status, equipment that they fly, their experience or their proficiency.

Anyone who has taken the time to write any thing but condolences or kind words about this family should be ashamed of themselves and their worthless existence. I mean come on, what are you think? Some of you say it's because you just wanna upset people, but what kinda sadistic inadequate person are you then? A young family was killed and another lost a father. Not to mention being a coward talking wrongly from the comfort of your studio apt behind a locked door and fake name. Who would never have the courage to say those things to the face of a family member of theirs! I knew this family and they were truly kind and loving people. Tragic things happen everyday for no particular rhyme or reason to all sorts of peopl good and bad, rich and poor so to try and mock and belittle what happened is just plain wrong. I have even flown with Mr.Bukley and his family before and he was a very efficient pilot who took every precaution necessary. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. And they truly were good people who will be missed by many! So anyone else with something negative to say save it for your next visit to the shrink!


"Tragic things happen everyday for no particular rhyme or reason to all sorts of peopl good and bad, rich and poor so to try and mock and belittle what happened is just plain wrong."

This is true, yet we seem to live in a country where if this happens to someone who is not rich, then they deserved it and are just untalented whiners who should be on the streets suffering. Especially according the right wing.

Please be sure and use your same point the next time some very wealthy right winger heaps similar vile upon those less financially secure.

Baffled- his name was B-U-C-K-A-L-E-W, not B--U-K-L-E-Y- did you really fly with him and his family? What is an "efficient" pilot?

Angel Eyes, Toni H., and Old Timer,
You have been reduced, by the vagaries and challenges of existence and mottled and magnified by the infotainment culture, to a sub-human condition. Do you understand that your responses define you as rutting swine, rather than fellow members of the species to the deceased belonged? Have you any understanding that your envious, bigoted, totalizing spurts of ignorance are no better than the pit bulls that gashed ankles in Montgomery, or the truncheons that blithely and indiscriminately treated human life as mulch in Siberia? Have you been educated in the fact that "Wall Street" is a 600-foot long stretch of paved surface, and will not suffice to define the individual character and actions of each of the many thousands of human beings who make their livelihoods there (literally and figuratively)? Further, what abdication of your own ethics permit you to take the occasion of these deaths--the end of the lives of these people--and turn it into a polemical rant? Wherefore this grotesque hardening of your own spirit? What awful rot caused your heart to blacken and shrink so as to allow you to efface these persons--and they are persons, they are Jeff, and Corinne, and Jackson, and Meriwether, and Rakesh? You classify them as chattle, as collateral in your hollow, immature, reductive caste video game.

These lost souls make no sense to you, because you are without a recognizable humanity. You will not be ashamed, for you know no shame.

@ Thane - the psychology of blog posts is an interesting question. Unfortunately for all the positive aspects of digital communication there are negatives as well.

@ Thane: +1
Angel Eyes, Toni H and Old Timer all have something in their upbringing and/or genetic makeup which prevents them from viewing a tragic event such as this the way normal human beings view it. Instead, they must perversely turn the victims into some kind of greedy villains who have brought suffering to those less successful than them. Perhaps one of the three sprayed graffiti on that statute of General Lee. At the least, they support that vandal.

Fake names have their place in an atmosphere where a person like me might face direct personal confrontations in public with people offended by what I have to say, either about them or someone they advocate for. Long ago I wrote letters to the editor of the local "main stream media" paper and used my real name. The letters criticized local public policy and I actually got hate phone calls from people. Now I sometimes write normal stuff, but also provocative things that may anger the vengefully inclined so I have my "nome de plume".

Many people may think that a man like Jeff Buckalew exemplified all the things wrong with the Wall St. culture and the financialization of the US economy which enabled people like him to become so wealthy through activities that many people perhaps rightly suspect are morally unsavory. Some people who apparently knew and liked the Buckalews wrote comments that somehow seemed to sanctify them. So, some people wrote deliberately callous and insensitive comments as a provocation to those people. That happens on comment boards.

Somebody twanged on me for talking about the Beachcraft Bonanza having a reputation for killing off wealthy amateur aviators. The Bonanza was and is a high end single engine plane with a pressurized cabin, high performance, advanced avionics, and the ability to fly high and fast. It's not as big as the Socata, but the reference is valid that the demographics of its users are the same. I never knew Mr. Buckalew, but often passed his home on my way in to town from my "studio apt." in Free Union and am familiar with Eagle Hill since it was known as "Lewisfield" back in the seventies.

Of course it's a sad thing when an entire family is wiped out at a single stroke; that's a given. But I stand by my earlier comments (not my snide aside about the kids and the dog) on the perils of general aviation where people who may have the general knowledge to be capable aviators make fatal errors from which they are unable to recover because they have not had the critical 3rd. party training on simulators, etc. which may improve their responses to emergencies which evolve quickly and confusingly, and where the pilot has limited time and only one chance to get it right. Of course professional training didn't prevent the crew of AF447 from flying a perfectly good Airbus to its doom in the Atlantic, all from confusion after a stall.
Icing is insidious and often times air traffic control is to blame by sticking to altitude controls at times when the pilot's best course of action is applying maximum power to climb through the icing zone quickly. Often pilots defer to control out of habit instead of insisting they clear traffic to allow a rapid ascent. Some years back in the Midwest a twin Turboprop with 60+ people on it augered into a field after loss of control caused by ice and would have been OK if control hadn't kept them in and endless holding pattern right smack dab in the icing zone. We may never know for sure about this crash since there was no data recorder on that plane, but odds are on an icing stall from which Mr. Buckalew was unable to recover, compounded by structural failure of the airframe during a spin. His last radio transmission probably didn't cut out from failure; it's more likely he was suddenly too busy to talk anymore when the loss of lift caused the plane to go out of control.

I loved the Buckalews. I join many others in this sentiment. Those who say "I did not know the Buckalews but" followed by some generalization of frustrated feelings against people of means without the admitted content of knowledge of Jeff, Corinne, Jackson and Meriwether should know they have nothing of value to say about them. You have no insight or observation worth making about this family. You are hurting those who do. I think you realize your rants are misplaced. Their tragic death is not the place for a free for all target practice on Wall Street. It's heartbreaking. My heart is broken. Please stop.

Angel Eyes- take a breath- your facts are wrong about the BEECH (not Beach) Bonanza, but that is OK. Watch your comments regarding ATC and ice and weather in general- this is not the place for comments that are not factual, and yours are just not factual. You have no clue as to what was going on, whether or not their was equipment failure, what the physiology of the pilot might have been or what kind of pre-flight information the pilot used to plan this flight.

If you would like to discuss, please let me know, and I will gladly enlighten you as to how the system works and why the FAA and the NTSB take a long time to uncover the information necessary to come to a conclusion as to what contributed to the accident.

Gosh, I made a typo about the Beech. I guess I'm wrong about everything then, eh?
I am not misinformed about the Bonanza; you are. Go to Wikipedia...
But this is just a comment board, right?
So what makes you so expert?
You're right, I don't know about the physiology of the pilot, but then again I wasn't talking about that, only about the possible psychology...
I know how the system works, so you can "enlighten" others, but thanks for the offer.
I don't know with certainty about how it all played out. However, I was expressing an informed opinion about what I think was the likeliest explanation of what might have happened. By the time we know (if we know, for it may come to pass that the official report may only be informed opinion), all this will be long forgotten..
So, life goes on, no? Until it doesn't, and we never really know when that time comes. Meanwhile, other tragedies happen. A Bad Santa copycat (after the Covina Christmas Massacre) murders 6 people in Texas and a family is destroyed in a Christmas fire elsewhere. So there's lots more bad in this world.


if you are going to act self-righteous, at least get your facts straight. I never said anything bad about this family, or even hinted at them deserving what happened, or speculated on what might have happened.

I simply pointed out why, unfortunately, we are seeing some of this ugly behavior, and, that those are up in arms need to be sure an express their outrage over such commentary when it happens to be directed at some other unfortunate soul. I suspect neither you, nor the ones so up in arms right now, ever show up to defend others trashed on this site.

See, I do not differentiate between folks when something bad happens, and I don't have to know them to show up and speak out in their defense. I feel as badly for the lady who just lost her children in parents in that terrible fire as I do for the little old lady living off of dry cat food in her crumbling home.

So your comments don't hurt me a bit, as they are just as untrue and generalized as you want to wag your fingers at.

Angel eyes- perhaps we will meet someday- how about your real name so that we will know each other- you have mine........

@Angel Eyes: Regarding the Beechcraft Bonanza, about the only thing that aircraft has in common with the Socata that Mr Buckalew was piloting is that they both have one engine. Unlike the Bonanza, the Socata is a jet-prop with de-icing equipment. It's almost twice the weight and can fly 13,000 feet higher at 50% greater speed than the Bonanza. It costs almost 4 times as much. The typical Bonanza pilot can only dream of flying an aircraft like that. Sometimes even the most experienced can have an accident due to extraordinary and unforeseen circumstances. Like the plane in which Senator Stevens was killed in Alaska. It was piloted by a retired Alaska Airlines, Boeing 737-qualified commercial pilot. I didn't know Mr Buckalew personally, but with an aircraft like that and his extensive hours of experience, he was not your typical low time pilot up in his Cessna Skyhawk for a joy ride on a Saturday morning.

Before I get into the foolishness on this page, I will start by saying that I am sorry about what happened to this family. I feel even worse for those who had to watch, helplessly, as the plane came apart and crashed. But I don't feel any worse, or less worse for the Buckalews, than I do over that family that perished in that fire in Conn, or the 9 year old child found dead whose working family was so poor they had to trust someone with a shady background, because they couldn't afford childcare.

Now then. Most of the stuff being posted here is just plain silly, and that goes for the defenders as well as the speculators. Talent? Weekend pilot? Plane type? Lesser means?

I am sorry, Stilleto,E-ville, Thane, you have no earthly idea what the financial status of the posters or, or their level of education or content, so your defense is not of the human, but sounds as much like the trite bleat of class war and generalizations as you want to complain about. Talent? Mozart was talented. If you want the moral high ground, why don;t you instead actually talk about the man's character, and what he actively did for his community to make it better.

Angel Eyeys, Old Timer, maybe your informed opinions and ideals need a different location to be aired at the moment. We don't really know what the background is here.

Maxwell, sorry, but if Spencer is telling the truth, then he should do what he is doing. No one should ever be ashamed to tell the truth. Live a good life and tell the truth yourself and you have less reason to fear the truth when you die.

My lord, more expensive airplanes with highly seasons professional pilots crash and have mechanical failures, with and without icing equipment.

E-ville- thanks.............as you know, there are far too many variables at work that the FAA and NTSB have to consider before coming to a probable cause. As simplistic as the ice deflector in the turbine air intake, to a complicated electrical failure at the wrong time, to actual extreme airframe icing can ruin your day.........we shall see.

May the Buckalew's be resting in peace........

The comments on this page for the most part are horriffic at best. Now we know one the reasons America is in such decline. These were people, real people. An entire family was wiped out. Who knows what caused it. At this point, does it really matter? I did not know Jeff but I grew up in his hometown and know people who knew him well. It was a huge loss to lose such a fine person. I can only assume that most who write such terrible comments about people they never met are only jealous that they do not have the work ethic and smarts to be such a high achiever as this guy appears to have been. May the family rest in peace and may those who have red ink on their hands get a life.

Bravo sega61, you just joined the silly comment defender group, with your class war jeaousy blah blah blah insinuations about people you yourself don't know.

Einstein was a super smart guy who achieved a lot too. Not very rich though, was he, and he didn't own a fancy plane either.

Like I said, if you want to take the moral high ground, why don't you talk about what Mr Buckalew actually did for his community. Did he help start a clinic for those without health insurance? Programms to teach young couples about money management?

What did he do that was so nice and wonderful????How about we focus there, and what society lost?

Maybe you do need to do your own homework. This family set up a foundation for over a million dollars to give money to charity (gasp!). Yeah, they were giving over $100K a year to charity (at the very least). Maybe they gave more. I consider that kinda nice and wonderful.

Old Timer - I have read your worthless comments for months. You are nothing more than a jealous, self-righteous hater. To even consider what you have written after the tragedy that has occurred is unforgivable. You are a vile person who should be thankful that you can hide your identity. I think more than one person in Charlottesville would like to teach you a lesson in manners.

No sega61, it is not up to me to go out and figure out what this man did or did not do. It is not for me to do some homework. I am not the one lauding him or attacking him. You are. You are responsible if you actually want to say something meaningful about him, and for others to know about that.

Simply trotting spin tripe suggesting jealousy and and lack of talent while making random speculations makes you no better than anyone you accuse.

Most of Charlottesville could use some lessons in manners Cville, from the highest to the lowest. Just remember you are hiding behind a public handle too, before you go pointing your fingers.Something about people living in glass houses......

Sorry you don't like swallowing what you dish out. I don't read jealousy on this post, I read tastelessness.

OK Toni H. that was pretty harsh.

This hatred is more than disturbing. Please let this family rest in peace.

I worked with Jeff about 15 years ago and ran into him this past summer while picking our kids up from camp.
I don't usually comment on boards like this but the comments here are atrocious. Yes, Jeff was highly successful and wealthy, and not that it matters, but he and his firm had nothing to do with the financial crisis, never made a mortgage loan or dealt in CDOs, and did not receive any bailouts. He was one of the first employees at Greenhill, and made his mark as a leading strategic and merger advisor. I know it's politically correct to villify the 1 pct at every turn, but using this horrific tragedy to make even the slightest implication of this tragedy as some sort of comeuppance for Wall St is appalling