NEW YORK — Federal investigators were unable to determine whykilling him and a passenger.
The crash near Corfu, about 15 miles east of Buffalo, killed Stephen Barnes and his niece, Elizabeth Barnes. Stephen Barnes was one half of Cellino & Barnes, a company known for its catchy TV jingle.
In a report released Friday, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that Barnes, a registered pilot, lost contact with air traffic controllers for about 25 minutes on the flight from New Hampshire to Buffalo, then restored contact about 30 miles away. of Buffalo and said “everything is fine”. “
Shortly after, the single-engine Socata TBM-700 began to descend at high speed, entered a spiral dive, and crashed into some woods.
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The fact that Barnes was still at a cruising altitude of 28,000 feet near his destination “suggests a marked loss of positional awareness through distraction or tampering,” the NTSB found. But the report concluded that Barnes’ communication with controllers was clear and did not suggest any impairments at the time.
The NTSB attributed the probable cause of the crash to “the pilot’s inability to maintain control of the aircraft for undetermined reasons during descent to the destination airport”.
Cellino & Barnes began as a small company in Buffalo, but became well known in New York and beyond for its ubiquitous advertising on billboards and television.
His jingle, in which the law firm’s phone number was set to song, was the subject of a skit on “Saturday Night Live” and other late-night TV jokes for years. In 2018, the Broadway actors posted viral videos of themselves singing the jingle in what was dubbed the “Cellino & Barnes Challenge”.