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3 Die in Jet Crash in Poconos

December 13, 1999

GOULDSBORO, Pa. (AP) _ A small private jet exploded when it nosedived into the ground near a trailer park in the Pocono mountains, killing the three people on board, reportedly including optical inventor and industrialist Peter La Haye Sr.

The Westwind 24 aircraft _ a 12-seat, twin-engine turbo jet _ went down Sunday afternoon near Gouldsboro, about 90 miles north of Philadelphia, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathryn Creedy said.

``It left a crater impression because the descent was pretty much perpendicular to the ground,″ said Jerry Gaughan, Lackawanna County’s director of emergency services.

KOMO-TV of Seattle said La Haye’s presence on the plane was confirmed by a man identifying himself only as the father-in-law of La Haye’s son in a brief interview at the man’s home in Bellevue, Wash.

La Haye Sr., owner of La Haye Laboratories and Neoptx in Redmond, Wash., lived in Medina, Wash., a lakeside suburb that also includes the $53.4 million home of Microsoft chairman Bill Gates.

He produced implantable lenses for cataract patients, a diet supplement designed to prevent degenerative eye disorders and stick-on reading lenses for sunglasses.

La Haye, in his 50s, was on the board of directors for Orbis International, which operates a DC-10 ``flying eye hospital″ to combat blindness worldwide and has been credited with saving or restoring the sight of nearly 22,000 people.

The FAA in Seattle and authorities in both states had not released the identities of the plane’s occupants this morning. Messages left at La Haye’s two companies, La Haye Laboratories and Neoptx in Redmond, Wash., by The Associated Press were not returned today.

Creedy said the plane left King County International Airport in Seattle en route to Teterboro Airport in northern New Jersey.

It crashed in woods near a small mobile home park, said Joseph Foley, communications officer for the state police in Dunmore.

No one on the ground was reported injured but debris was scattered throughout the area.

Harry Lloyd and his 15-year-old son, Tim, said they saw the plane fly right over them and then veer off, dip down and pull back up, doing a barrel roll.

The elder Lloyd said there was a ``muffled boom″ when the plane started shooting upward. When the plane got back up to its highest point, it came down at an extremely sharp angle, they said.

Winds were light and visibility was good _ about 10 miles _ at the time of the crash, which happened about 10 minutes after sunset, said National Weather Service meteorologist Barry Lambert.

``There was no indication of problems prior to the loss on radar,″ Creedy said.

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