Medidata co-founder Glen M. de Vries, 49, was killed after the plane he was traveling on crashed in a wooded area in Hampton, New Jersey on November 11. Thomas P. Fischer, 54, of Hopatcong, NJ was the only other passenger on board the single-engine Cessna 172 aircraft, and also did not survive the crash. Fischer owned the Fischer Aviation flight school where de Vries trained. It remains unclear who was piloting the plane and what the conditions were around the crash.
The four-seater Cessna is used for training and recreational flights. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the fatal crash and said in a tweet that it occurred under “unknown circumstances in a heavily wooded area.”
deVries co-founded Medidata in 1999 as a provider of technological software solutions to advance clinical research. Dassault Systèmes acquired the company in 2019 and de Vries was serving as the Life Sciences & Healthcare vice-chair for the new parent company.
The incident comes less than one month after deVries joined Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Star Trek actor William Shatner on board a Blue Origin flight into space. He was one of four crew members that took the ten-minute flight into space aboard Bezos’ Blue Origin New Shephard rocket (NS-18) on October 13.
“Our thoughts and support go out to Glen’s family. Our deepest sympathy also goes out to our Medidata team, which Glen co-founded. His tireless energy, empathy and pioneering spirit left their mark on everyone who knew him,” a spokesperson for Dassault Systèmes said in a statement. “We will truly miss Glen, but his dreams — which we share — live on: we will pursue progress in life sciences and healthcare as passionately as he did.”
On Friday, Blue Origin tweeted about de Vries, saying that, “We are devastated to hear of the sudden passing of Glen de Vries. He brought so much life and energy to the entire Blue Origin team and to his fellow crewmates. His passion for aviation, his charitable work, and his dedication to his craft will long be revered and admired.”
We are devastated to hear of the sudden passing of Glen de Vries. He brought so much life and energy to the entire Blue Origin team and to his fellow crewmates. His passion for aviation, his charitable work, and his dedication to his craft will long be revered and admired. pic.twitter.com/1hwnjntTVs
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) November 12, 2021
The crew of NS-18, Audrey Powers, William Shatner, Dr. Chris Boshuizen and Glen de Vries, with Crewmember 7 Sarah Knights (October 12, 2021). Photo credit: Blue Origin
The plane de Vries was on took off from Essex County Airport in Caldwell, NJ and was making its way to Sussex Airport in rural northwestern New Jersey. The plane suddenly went missing at which time the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) alerted public safety agencies to look for it. The FAA said emergency crews found the wreckage at about 4 pm local time.
According to FAA records, de Vries was certified as a private pilot with an instrument rating, which allowed him to fly into clouds and only in reference to a plane’s instruments.
Since 1999, de Vries was the driving force behind Medidata’s mission of “powering smarter treatments and healthier people” by spurring transformation in clinical research “with technology, non-traditional ways of thinking and industry collaboration.” Over a span of more than two decades, de Vries worked with “the largest pharma companies, small biotechs and medical device companies across tens-of-thousands of clinical trials,” according to Medidata.
De Vries had an undergraduate degree in molecular biology and genetics from Carnegie Mellon University and studied computer science at New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematics.