NRA exec whose daughter, granddaughter were killed in plane crash also lost child in 1994 scuba tragedy

Gun Rights

The prominent MAGA donor couple whose daughter and granddaughter were killed along with two other people in a “ghost plane” crash reportedly faced another tragedy almost 30 years ago — when their other daughter died in a scuba-diving accident.

John and Barbara Rumpel lost their daughter and their 2-year-old granddaughter when the twin-engine Cessna Citation V crashed Sunday afternoon in a rural part of southwest Virginia.

The adult daughter was identified by the Daily Mail as Adina Azarian, 49, whose LinkedIn profile lists her as a real estate broker in East Hampton.

John, 75, owner of Encore Motors of Melbourne Inc. in Florida, and his wife, Barbara, a gun rights advocate, also lost their daughter Victoria at age 19 in a 1994 scuba-diving accident, the news outlet reported.

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Her death prompted the businessman and his wife to buy an 11-story building in Melbourne and turn the property into Victoria Landing, an assisted-living facility named after their late daughter.

“John honors the memory of his daughter with the Victoria Landing name. With that honor comes the responsibility to make Victoria Landing the very best it can be … in commemoration of Victoria and in celebration of everything life can and should be,” according to its website.

Adina Azarian with her daughter.
John and Barbara Rumpel’s daughter and granddaughter were killed in a small plane crash Sunday.

“Life is simply too precious,” the facility adds.

Two F-16 fighter jets were scrambled, setting off sonic booms, when the unresponsive aircraft crossed into restricted airspace over the Washington, DC, area after it turned around during a flight from Tennessee to Long Island.

The fighter jets saw that the pilot of the doomed Cessna appeared to have passed out, a US official told ABC News — a situation that creates a so-called “ghost plane” in which the pilot and passengers become incapacitated, while the craft is still airborne.

John and Barbara Rumpel.
John and Barbara Rumpel also lost their daughter Victoria at age 19 in a 1994 scuba-diving accident.

The jet had departed from Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Elizabethton, Tennessee, on a flight to Long Island MacArthur Airport, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. 

It reached Long Island before making a U-turn and heading toward Virginia, according to flight-tracking website Flight Aware, which showed that the aircraft had reached an altitude of 34,000 feet.

The Cessna appeared to be flying on autopilot, a source familiar with the incident told Reuters, before it descended at a rapid rate — at one point falling more than 30,000 feet per minute. It ended up slamming into the ground in a rural part of the Shenandoah Valley.

Adina Azarian with her daughter.
Adina Azarian and her daughter died when the small plane they were on crashed in a rural part of southwest Virginia.

NORAD said that when the jet was intercepted at about 3:20 p.m., “the pilot was unresponsive and the Cessna subsequently crashed near the George Washington National Forest.”

In addition to Azarian and her daughter, the pilot and the family’s nanny were also killed in the crash.

John Rumpel, a pilot himself, said his daughter and granddaughter were returning home after visiting him in North Carolina, suggesting to the New York Times that the plane may have lost pressurization.

Victoria Landing.
The death of their first daughter prompted the Rumpels to buy an 11-story building in Melbourne and turn the property into Victoria Landing, an assisted-living facility.
Victoria Landing

Some aviation experts theorized that hypoxia may have incapacitated the pilot and the others onboard.

Hypoxia “occurs when there is not enough oxygen in the cabin,” aviation expert Steve Ganyard told ABC News.

“The pressure should keep enough air in the cabin to stay alert and stay awake. In this case, it can happen insidiously where you lose consciousness, you begin to feel tingling, you get a sense of euphoria and it very slowly overcomes the people in the cabin,” he said.

Barbara Rumpel with her daughter and granddaughter.
Barbara Rumpel with her daughter and granddaughter.
Facebook/Barbara Weimer Rumpel

Authorities secure the entrance to Mine Bank Trail.
Authorities secure the entrance to Mine Bank Trail ahead of the rescue operation.

The Rumpels, who are politically active, have donated to multiple Republicans running for federal office in the past few years — including $250,000 to the Trump Victory PAC in 2020, online records show.

Barbara, who is known for her work advocating for gun rights, has been a member of the NRA’s Women’s Leadership Council since 2002 and an executive committee member of the council since 2012, according to her LinkedIn account.

The crash is being investigated by the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board.

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