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Pilot and his wife die after plane bound for Naples crashes near Jamaica

Posted at 1:14 PM, Sep 05, 2014

Part-time Collier residents and prominent philanthropists Larry and June Glazer have died after their small plane en route to Naples veered off course Wednesday, crashing off the coast of Jamaica, according to WHAM-TV in Rochester, N.Y., and The Associated Press.

Maj. Basil Jarrett of the Jamaican Defense Force told the AP the plane went down Friday about 14 miles northeast of Port Antonio. Jarrett says the military has sent aircraft to investigate.

The Glazers' son confirmed to WHAM-TV that his parents were both on board and have died. Larry Glazer was one of Rochester's most prominent real estate developers, and the couple had a home in North Naples.

Federal aviation officials said the couple's fixed wing single-engine aircraft took off from Rochester at about 8:45 a.m. destined for Naples Municipal Airport. The pilot stopped responding to radio calls at about 10 a.m., the Federal Aviation Administration said. The Associated Press reported at about 2:30 p.m. that the plane had crashed about 14 miles off the northeast coast of Jamaica.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command said the pilot might have lost consciousness due to hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation. NBC News, citing unnamed sources, said the pilot was seen unconscious and slumped over in the cockpit.

Andrew Knott, executive director of the TBM Owners and Pilots Association, a group dedicated to the type of aircraft the Glazers were flying, said it's likely an issue with cabin pressurize debilitated the couple. Knott said Larry Glazer, a member of the association's board of directors, had been flying TBM aircrafts for several years, and that June Glazer had a pilot's license. 

"When the airplane is still capable of flying, the most likely cause is always going to be pressurization," Knott said. "There isn't anything else that can debilitate multiple people simultaneously."

According to FlightAware.com, the Glazers' plane veered dramatically off course over western North Carolina, turning southeast. Air Force pilots in Florida were dispatched to follow the aircraft after stop communicating with officials on the ground. The Air Force pilots followed the plane until the passed over Cuba. 

The aircraft, a 2014 SOCATA TBM 700, has seven seats and is used for light business. It was scheduled to arrive in Naples shortly before noon.

Knott said Larry Glazer "always struck me as a good and careful pilot" who trained regularly. June Glazer didn't fly TBM aircraft, he said, but she was well-versed enough to radio for help if her husband suffered a medical episode. The couple frequently jetted between upstate New York and Southwest Florida, Knott said.

Naples Municipal Airport Executive Director Ted Soliday said he plane was last there July 6.

"It does come in here, and it buys fuel from us in a regular basis," Soliday said. "It comes here enough that our people were able to look it up and see we have a fuel account with them."

Soliday said he had not been in contact with the pilot, the NTSB or the FAA. He could not confirm how many people might have been on board.

Though "expensive," the plane model is fashionable because of its jet engine and size, Soliday said.

"It's a popular little plane," he said. Knott added he believes there are about 600 jets like the one flown by the Glazers.

Follow the Daily News throughout the day for more on this story. The Associated Press contributed to this report.