Stephen Barnes, 61, one half of the Cellino & Barnes, the most well-known personal injury law firm in the country, died Friday when a small plane he was piloting crashed near Buffalo.
According to The Buffalo News, Barnes' niece, attorney Elizabeth Barnes, was a passenger in the small aircraft that crashed in Genesee County around 11:45 a.m. She died as well, according to the report.
The pair left for Buffalo from Manchester, New Hampshire, shortly after 10 a.m. Friday to visit Stephen's mother for her birthday.
"It is with great sadness that I learned of the tragic passing of Steve Barnes in a plane crash," Barnes' partner Ross Cellino Jr. said in a statement to The Buffalo News.
Stephen has three children with ex-wife Ruth Barnes. His long-time partner, Ellen Sturm, is also an attorney with Cellino & Barnes.
"All of us at Cellino & Barnes are deeply saddened," Cellino said. "My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Barnes family during this difficult time."
Stephen's Socata TBM 700 arrived in Manchester at 9:14 a.m. Friday and was scheduled to depart again at 9:45 a.m., but didn't take off until 10:18 a.m., Flightaware.com shows. It was slated to arrive in Buffalo shortly before noon Friday.
The plane flew in a straight line from New Hampshire to Genesee County, when it turned abruptly northward and plummeted into a wooded area.
At the time of the crash, it was partly cloudy with light winds. Last contact with the plane was made at 11:18 a.m.
Sheriff William Sheron said his office received a 911 call at 11:46 a.m. about a possible plane crash.
A witness said the aircraft was making a "loud winding noise," similar to that of a motorcycle.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.
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