Six people from two well-known Rhode Island families died yesterday when their single-engine plane crashed in central Pennsylvania, authorities and a friend said.
Authorities were not sure what caused the small plane to crash about 2 p.m. outside the small borough of Bellefonte, about 2 miles before its destination at University Park Airport in State College, said Jim Peters, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.
Carl Freedman, a lawyer and friend of the families, said the crash claimed the lives of the pilot, Jeffrey Jacober, 51, of Providence; his wife, Karen, 49; and their 15-year-old son, Eric. Also killed were their friends, Gregg Weingeroff, 49; his wife, Dawn; and their only son, Leland, 10.
The Jacobers, Freedman said, had two other sons, Michael, 21, a senior at Penn State University, and David, 24, who lives in Washington, D.C. Gregg Weingeroff had a daughter from a previous marriage, Jolie Weingeroff, 21.
Leland Weingeroff was in the fourth grade at the Wheeler School, a private school in Providence, according to Dan Miller, the head of school. Eric Jacober was attending St. Andrew's School, a private school in Barrington, after attending Wheeler through the eighth grade, Miller said.
''Both families were very involved with the Wheeler community," Miller said.
The plane had departed from Naples, Fla., where the families were on vacation, and was headed to State College, where they planned to see Michael Jacober play in a lacrosse game, Freedman said. Michael Jacober is the captain of the lacrosse team, according to a Penn State website. They were then to return together to Rhode Island, Freedman said.
David Jacober was driving yesterday to Penn State to be with his brother, said Glenn Thiel, head coach of the men's lacrosse team. Michael Jacober played in a 1 p.m. game yesterday and team did not find out about the crash until after the game, about 4 p.m., Thiel said.
''Michael is holding up," Thiel said. ''He's with us here, with his teammates. We're taking care of him."
The families shared much in common, and the impact of their deaths was felt in Rhode Island yesterday. Jeffrey Jacober and Gregg Weingeroff were company presidents, active in Jewish charities, and with their families were members of Temple Beth-El in Providence. Their friends were in mourning yesterday.
''Both families were active in temple, and very active supporters of temple," said Beth-El's president, Kenneth C. Kirsch. ''They were very active members of the Jewish community here in Rhode Island for years, very well-known and lots of friends. I'm sure this will reverberate in a very big way and a very sad way."
Jacober was president of MEDport Inc., a Providence company he founded in 1996 that manufactures healthcare devices, such as digital thermometers. He apparently found that he had a knack for business while in college. According to a 1992 article in the Providence Business News, Jacober was a prelaw student at the University of Rhode Island in the 1970s, when he and some fellow students began selling T-shirts to campus fraternities and sororities. In a semester, they had earned $5,000. After graduating, Jacober founded his own company, Sports Graphics Inc.
More recently, when Jeffrey Jacober's sister, Ellen, died following a long battle with anorexia, he established in her name a foundation and endowment to fund education about eating disorders, according to published reports.
Gregg Weingeroff was president of Weingeroff Enterprises, a family business for 50 years that traded in jewelry, accessories, and gifts. Dawn Weingeroff took part in the jewelry's marketing and merchandising, Freedman said.
''A loss of this magnitude is impossible for me to comprehend at this time," Freedman said. ''Two families' lives being taken is just devastating, and the loss that I feel is a loss that's going to be felt among countless people and in the broader communities in which these families traveled."
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.