Monday, March 4, 2024

Keller Williams agent, daughter die after plane drifts into no-fly zone

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Adina Azarian, a New York-based Keller Williams agent who specialized in luxury listings, died Sunday after a small plane she was in drifted into restricted airspace over Washington, D.C., before eventually crashing in Virginia.

Adina Azarian

Keller Williams NYC confirmed in a statement to Inman that Azarian, along with her 2-year-old daughter Aria, had died, saying “we are deeply saddened to confirm the tragic loss of our beloved agent.” The statement goes on to describe Azarian as an “iconic real estate agent in New York City and Long Island.”

A letter distributed internally to Keller Williams personnel, and provided to Inman, further notes that Azarian was the original team leader at Keller Williams NYC, and that she was “known for her dedication, professionalism, and warm spirit.” According to her LinkedIn page, Azarian first joined Keller Williams in 2011 after a brief stint at Corcoran.

News of the incident first drew attention over the weekend after a sonic boom rattled the D.C. region. The North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, later revealed in a statement that the sonic boom came from a pair of F-16 fighter jets that were deployed when a small airplane flew into restricted airspace and became unresponsive.

The fighter jets fired flares in an attempt to get the attention of the pilot in the small plane, a Cessna 560 Citation V. However the pilot remained “unresponsive,” according to the statement, and the plane ultimately crashed Sunday afternoon near the George Washington National Forest in Virginia.

Officials on Monday were still investigating why the pilot did not respond to attempts at communication.

In a conversation with the New York Times, John Rumpel identified himself as Azarian’s father and said his company owned the plane. He said Azarian, her daughter, their nanny and the pilot were traveling back to Azarian’s East Hampton home after visiting Rumpel in North Carolina.

Rumpel told the Times that the plane went “almost straight down and at a high speed” and that the impact caused a crater as well as a 150-yard debris field.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) did not immediately respond to Inman’s request for comment Monday, but told the Times it would be on the scene investigating for three or four days. Adam Gerhardt, an investigator at the NTSB, also told the Times that the wreckage is “highly fragmented” and that the scene represents a “very challenging accident site.”

State Police arrive at the crash site in Virginia Sunday. Credit: Celal Gunes, Anadolu Agency, and Getty Images

On her website, Azarian described herself as a “successful entrepreneur who transitioned from a highly successful 20+ year real estate career in Manhattan —  which included owning her own boutique firm — to selling Hamptons luxury real estate.” The site includes a list of more than a dozen recently closed sales, with prices ranging from about $750,000 to more than $2.8 million.

Client testimonials on her site describe Azarian as “a delight to work with,” “an incredible asset for our first out east real estate experience,” and “organized, responsive, tenacious, creative, thorough.” She did not appear to be an extremely active social media user, but a handful of comments on her Facebook page Monday expressed condolences.

The internal Keller Williams’ letter further notes that she was known for her “passion for her work and her genuine care for others” — both of which “touched the lives of many.”

“We are devastated by this profound loss,” the letter notes, adding later that Azarian “will be sorely missed.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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