Store Chiefs Delivering Christmas Bonuses Killed in Plane Crash
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) _ A small airplane crashed on approach to an airport Friday, killing the owner and chief financial officer of a department store chain as they traveled from town to town delivering employee Christmas bonuses.
The twin-engine propeller plane crashed onto an interstate freeway offramp short of Pulliam Airport in Flagstaff, police Sgt. Pascual Mascias said. No one on the ground was hurt.
The plane was piloted by Donald Ballin Kaufman, owner of the Boston Store Inc., a two-state chain of department stores, Mascias said.
Killed along with Kaufman, 52, of Malibu, Calif., was Suzanne Satow of Carson, Calif., the organization’s chief financial officer, authorities said.
They had been in Prescott, Ariz., about 60 miles to the southwest, earlier in the day. Flagstaff is about 140 miles north of Phoenix.
The plane had been in contact with the Flagstaff airport’s control tower for about 10 minutes before the crash, Mascias said. It had circled the airport and was cleared to land before it crashed and burst into flames about a half-mile short of the airport.
State Department of Transportation worker Brent Rouble said he saw the plane nose-dive into the ground and burst ″into a giant ball of flame.″ He didn’t see any smoke or flames before the plane hit.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation. It was windy around Flagstaff at the time, and snow was falling.
At the Boston Store headquarters in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson, Lisa Benson, vice president and general merchandise manager, said officials were meeting to ″put things back together.″
″We’re a little emotional about this,″ said Ms. Benson. ″We’re all deeply saddened. It’s too much of a shock for us to sit and converse with you how we feel.″
It was an annual tradition to hand-deliver Christmas bonuses to company’s 21 stores in Arizona and California, Ms. Benson said.
The accident recalled a crash last week near Rome, Ga., that killed nine people, including executives of the Bruno’s supermarket chain delivering holiday greetings to their employees.