News, Culture & Society

Businessman who went into space with William Shatner dies in New Jersey plane crash 

The businessman who flew into space last month alongside William Shatner aboard the Blue Origin rocket died in a small plane crash Thursday, police said.

Glen de Vries, 49, co-founder of Medidata Solutions, was taking flying lessons with Thomas Fischer, 54, of Fischer Aviation, when their plane crashed in Sussex County, New Jersey at 3 p.m. 

Both men perished in the crash, the New Jersey State Police Department said. 

De Vries’ death comes a month after he paid to board Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket with Shatner, Australian entrepreneur Chris Boshuizen and Blue Origin executive Audrey Powers. 

He had called the experience ‘a dream come true.’ 

Blue Origin tweeted, ‘We are 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. His passion for aviation, his charitable work, and his dedication to his craft will long be revered and admired.’ 

Glen de Vries, 49, co-founder of Medidata Solutions died in a small plane crash on Friday

The single-engine plane crashed in Sussex, New Jersey

The single-engine plane crashed in Sussex, New Jersey

De Vries, left, went to space with (L-R) William Shatner, Blue Origin executive Audrey Powers and Australian entrepreneur Chris Boshuizen

De Vries, left, went to space with (L-R) William Shatner, Blue Origin executive Audrey Powers and Australian entrepreneur Chris Boshuizen

The four space tourists boarded the Blue Origins rocket on October 13

The four space tourists boarded the Blue Origins rocket on October 13

De Vries called going up to space with the Star Trek star 'a dream come true'

De Vries called going up to space with the Star Trek star ‘a dream come true’

De Vries was with Thomas Fischer, left, of Fischer Aviation. Fischer teaches pilot courses in the New Jersey based school

De Vries was with Thomas Fischer, left, of Fischer Aviation. Fischer teaches pilot courses in the New Jersey based school

Blue Origins tweeted in condolences for de Vries' death

Blue Origins tweeted in condolences for de Vries’ death

De Vries, a molecular biologist and New York University and Carnegie Mellon graduate, made his wealth through Medidata Solutions, which is the most-used clinical research platform in the world, CBS reported. 

The company’s software has managed more than 25,000 clinical trials involving more than seven million people. Medidata was acquired by Dassault Systems in 1999 for $5.8 billion. 

His wife, Maria, told the Daily Beast, ‘I would just say that Glen was an amazing man, larger than life. He always seemed like a superhero to me, so smart, so talented, generous and really funny. A huge light has gone out in the world.’ 

His father, Alan, said, ‘He was one of the most amazing human beings you could’ve ever met. He gave so much to so many people, and as a result of his work, probably millions of lives have been saved. 

‘We’re just devastated. I’m still totally in a state of shock—myself and his mother’s family and my daughter, we’re just all still in a state of shock. He lived life to the fullest, and I think he gave to the fullest. It’s just who he was.’  

Dassault Systèmes said in a statement on Friday, ‘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.’ 

De Vries was enjoyed flying planes in his spare time, and had been attending Fischer Aviation’s pilot training courses since 2016, the New Jersey Herald reported. 

Fischer Aviation did not immediately reply to DailyMail.com’s request for comment. 

De Vries flew planes in his spare time. He is pictured after a flight last week

De Vries flew planes in his spare time. He is pictured after a flight last week

De Vries and Fischer's plane had gone missing near Kemah Lake, New Jersey

De Vries and Fischer’s plane had gone missing near Kemah Lake, New Jersey

De Vries captured the nations attention as he joined the second Blue Origins space crew in October

De Vries captured the nations attention as he joined the second Blue Origins space crew in October

De Vries, laughing in the back, spent time with Jeff Bezos, in the drivers seat, as the crew of the New Shepard NS-18 prepared to fly on October 21

De Vries, laughing in the back, spent time with Jeff Bezos, in the drivers seat, as the crew of the New Shepard NS-18 prepared to fly on October 21

The Federal Aviation Administration alerted police that De Vries and Fischer’s single-engine Cessna 172 plane had gone missing at around 3 p.m. on Friday near Kemah Lake, New Jersey. 

First responders found the wreckage less than an hour later. 

Police said the single-engine plane was on its way to Sussex Airport from Essex County Airport, in Caldwell, when it crashed. 

The aircraft was destroyed in the crash, which occurred ‘under unknown circumstances,’ the FAA said. 

It is not known which of the two men was piloting the plane when it crashed.

In a statement, the FAA added that a preliminary report on why the plane may have crashed would be released by next week. 

After de Vries touched down on earth following the space flight last month, he said the crew ‘had a moment of camaraderie’ when they reached space – Blue Origin has not disclosed the cost of the ticket.

‘We actually just put our hands together,’ he said.

Powers chimed in saying: ‘We wanted to memorialize being together, there.’

‘And then we enjoyed the view as much as we can,’ de Vries said in response.

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk