[UPDATED] Lewis Katz dies in a plane crash just days after winning control of Philadelphia’s newspapers

Lewis Katz (Credit: Michael Bryant)

Lewis Katz (Credit: Michael Bryant)

Lewis Katz and six others were killed Saturday night when their Gulfstream IV ran off the runway and burst into flames in Bedford, Mass.

“I heard a big boom, and I thought at the time that someone was trying to break into my house because it shook it,” said Jared Patterson, who lives next to the Hanscom Field runway. “I thought someone was, like, banging on the door trying to get in.”

The 72-year-old Katz and business partner Gerry Lenfest gained control of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com on Tuesday after buying out their partners.

“We all deeply mourn the loss of my true friend and fellow investor,” says Lenfest said. “It is a severe loss, but I am pleased to announce that Drew Katz, Lewis’s son, will replace his father on the board of our new company.”

* Lewis Katz, co-owner of the Inquirer, dies in a plane crash (philly.com)
* Flames rose 60 feet in the air, said an eyewitness (bostonglobe.com)
* Crash scene photos (necn.com)

Update: Drew Katz’s statement is after the jump.

News release
Drew Katz, son of Lewis Katz, today announced the tragic death of his father in a plane crash in Massachusetts. Details are still being ascertained.

“It is with an incomprehensible amount of grief and the heaviest of hearts that my sister and I announce the loss of our beloved dad. While details are still not completely available, I am able to confirm that our father was a passenger on an airplane that crashed on takeoff near Bedford, Massachusetts.”

“My father was my best friend. He taught me everything. He never forgot where and how he grew up, and he worked tirelessly to support his community in countless ways that were seen and unseen. He loved his native city of Camden and his adopted home of Philadelphia. He believed in strengthening education through his founding of charter schools, his support of the Boys & Girls Clubs and his generosity to his alma maters, Temple University and Dickinson Law School. But his greatest accomplishment by far was being the most amazing father to my sister and me, and grandparent to his four grandchildren.”

“His sudden passing adds to our family’s grief over the recent passing of our beloved mother, Marjorie Katz. We will miss both of them tremendously but will work to carry on the enormous legacy that they both created.”

“I also wish to extend my deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the passengers and crew members who also died in this tragic accident. May God give us all strength in this difficult time.”