Glen de Vries, who traveled to space with William Shatner, dies in NJ plane crash

SUSSEX COUNTY, N.J. — An entrepreneur who last month traveled to space with actor William Shatner died Thursday afternoon in a plane crash in New Jersey, according to multiple reports.

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Glen de Vries, 49, of New York City, and Thomas Fisher, 54, of Hopatcong, New Jersey, died when the single-engine Cessna 172 they were traveling in crashed into a wooded area of a state park near Lake Kemah, WCBS-TV reported. The plane had taken off from Essex County Airport around 3 p.m. and crashed about an hour later, according to the news station. In an initial report, officials with the Federal Aviation Administration said the plane was “destroyed” in the crash, the cause of which remained unknown Friday, the New Jersey Herald reported.

De Vries last month embarked on an 11-minute trip to space on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket and capsule alongside Shatner, former NASA engineer Chris Boshuizen and Blue Origin’s vice president of mission and flight operations, Audrey Powers.

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“I’ve been passionate about aviation and space for as long as I can remember, so this flight is truly a dream come true,” he said before the trip. He had been receiving private pilot training from Fischer, the owner and head instructor of a family-run flight school in Essex County, since 2016, according to the Herald.

In a statement released Friday, Blue Origin officials said they were “devastated to hear of the sudden passing of Glen de Vries.”

“He brought so much life and energy to the entire Blue Origin team and to his fellow crewmates,” the statement read. “His passion for aviation, his charitable work, and his dedication to his craft will long be revered and admired.”

In 1999, de Vries co-founded Medidata Solutions, a clinical research platform that’s since been used in more than 25,000 clinical trials involving more than seven million patients. The company was acquired in 2019 by software corporation Dassault Systemes. De Vries served as vice chair of life sciences and healthcare for the company.

“Our thoughts and support go out to Glen’s family,” a Dassault Systemes spokesperson said in a statement obtained by CBS News. “Our deepest sympathy also goes out to our MEDIDATA team, which Glen co-founded. His tireless energy, empathy and pioneering spirit left their mark on everyone who knew him. We will truly miss Glen, but his dreams — which we share — live on: we will pursue progress in life sciences & healthcare as passionately as he did.”

Officials with the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the plane crash, according to WCBS.