Penn. doctors, teen daughter die in plane crash minutes after takeoff

Divya Khurana Facebook photo 

A doctor couple and their teenage daughter were killed on Aug. 9 when their plane crashed in the backyard of a home in Pennsylvania’s Montgomery County. The victims have been identified as Dr. Jasvir Khurana, 60, his wife, Dr. Divya Khurana, 54, and their daughter, Kiran Khurana, 19.

According to reports in the Philadelphia Inquirer and other local media, Jasvir Khurana was manning the 44-year-old aircraft, which was registered to him. The crash occurred just three minutes after the flight took off from shortly after 6:00 a.m. from Northeast Philadelphia Airport, news reports said. The flight lasted for about three minutes before the single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft went down.

The couple is survived by their oldest daughter who was not on the plane at the time of the crash.

The Khuranas were reportedly on their way to California to meet her. They lived in Lower Merion Township, a Philadelphia suburb in Montgomery County, about 20 miles from the crash site. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Khuranas lived with Jasvir’s parents, “whom they often took long walks with, either alone or with Rusty, their energetic beagle-mix.”

Jasvir Khurana was a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Temple University's Katz School of Medicine, where he studied bone disease. His wife, Divya Khurana, was a pediatric neurologist at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children and a professor at Drexel University College of Medicine.

The husband-and-wife physician-researchers both trained at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and moved to the U.S. more than two decades ago.

Kiran, their younger daughter, graduated last year from Harriton High School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that at school Kiran Khurana was on a nationally ranked squash team and was active in theater productions. In a statement, Harriton High School Principal Scott Weinstein said Kiran was “one of their kindest students. She was humble, serving of others, and had an extremely bright future. We are deeply saddened by this tremendous loss."

Neighbors and colleagues remembered the Khuranas as “friendly, wonderful, lovely” people. "Dr. Khurana has been a valued faculty member in the Department of Pathology at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University since 2002,” the university said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.”

Dr. Larry Kaiser, Lewis Katz Dean/ president CEO of Temple University Health System told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Jasvir Khurana is somebody the university values greatly. “He made major contributions to the teaching program here, both the residency program and the medical student program. He is somebody who we value greatly,” he said.

A statement issued by St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children said Divya “was loved by her patients and students alike. Her sudden passing has left a void in the hearts of all who knew and loved her.” Dr. Agustin Legido, Section Chief of Neurology at St. Christopher's Hospital, who worked with Divya Khurana for 20 years at the hospital, described her as a neurologist, and a dear friend. “She was calm, kind, a team player and always very positive," he told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

According to information on the Jasvir Khunara Funeral Fund on Facebook, Jasvir Khurana was the founder member of International society of Bone and Joint disease, was an editorial board member for WHO book on bone and soft tissue and recently, was the immediate past president of Pennsylvania Association of Pathologists. He also led a delegation from Pennsylvania as a chair for the college of American Pathologists House of Delegates.

Officials have not yet determined the cause of the crash. According to local news reports, the National Weather Service said “conditions were overcast and hazy and appeared to be under instrument flight rules.” Adam Gerhardt, an air safety investigator for the NTSB, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the investigation would last several days. A preliminary report is expected in 10 to 15 days, and a final report within a year, the report said.

Meanwhile, news reports, quoting authorities said that there is no indication the pilot made a distress call. The plane hit several trees before it stopped, and the debris was spread across four backyards, local media reports said, citing Upper Moreland Police Chief Michael Murphy.

Meanwhile, NBC10, which obtained the audio of Jasvir Khurana, speaking to air traffic control moments before the flight took off, reported that in the audio, “Dr. Khurana incorrectly repeats back parts of the route that were dictated to him by the tower controller.” A frequency mix up is then heard, the NBC 10 report said.

Chris Crane told Eyewitness News that he heard a "thunderous bang" and his house shook when the small plane crashed in his neighbor's backyard. "I thank God that it missed our homes," Crane said, adding that there was a strong smell of fuel following the crash.

Another neighbor Linda Alberson told NBC 10 that she “heard a boom, louder than thunder, and walked to see what it was.” She told the news outlet that saw the damaged shed nearby.

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