December 20, 2011 / 7:14 PM / 6 years ago

Plane crashes on New Jersey highway, bankers killed

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A small private plane crashed on a busy New Jersey highway on Tuesday, killing five people including two managing directors with New York-based investment bank Greenhill & Co Inc.

The single-engine Socata plane took off from New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport and was headed for DeKalb Peachtree Airport near Atlanta, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters said.

The plane crashed onto Interstate 287 near Morristown, New Jersey, police said.

Jeffrey Buckalew, 45, head of Greenhill’s North American advisory activities, was believed to have been on the plane along with his wife and two children, the firm said.

The plane belonged to Buckalew, who joined Greenhill in 1996 from Salomon Brothers. He was an experienced pilot with a passion for flying, Greenhill said.

Also on board was Rakesh Chawla, 36, a Greenhill financial services sector banker, the firm added.

“Jeff was one of the first employees of Greenhill. He and Rakesh were extraordinary professionals who were highly respected by colleagues and clients alike,” Greenhill Chairman Robert Greenhill and Chief Executive Scott Bok said in a joint statement. “They will be sorely missed and our sympathies go out to their families and friends.”

New Jersey state police Trooper Christopher Kay said five people were confirmed dead, but did not name them.

Before the crash, the plane made contact with an air traffic controller asking for permission to seek higher altitude, which was granted, Peters said. Following this, the transmission became garbled and the plane disappeared from radar, he added.

Buckalew had served as an adviser for Delta Air Lines during merger talks with Northwest Airlines. He also worked on Roche’s squeeze-out of Genentech, and Dow Chemical’s Rohm & Haas deal. Chalwa had joined the firm in 2003 from The Blackstone Group.

Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Will Dunham

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