Skip to Content
No Fees Unless We Win 855-948-5098

Virginia Plane Crash Kills Aria and Adina Azarian, Evadnie Smith, and Jeff Hefner

wooded area in virginia

On June 4, 2023, a Cessna plane owned by prominent Florida businessman John Rumpel crashed in a mountainous area near the George Washington National Forest in Virginia. All four people aboard the Cessna Citation plane were killed in the crash.

The deceased have been identified as Rumpel’s daughter, 49-year-old Adina Azarian, Azarian’s two-year-old daughter, Aria, the Azarian family nanny, Evadnie Smith, and the pilot, Jeff Hefner.

The incident began at approximately 1:13 p.m. local time when the Cessna Citation plane departed from Elizabethtown Municipal Airport in Elizabethtown, Tennessee with a flight plan to travel to Long Island, New York. Records show that the Cessna plane was registered to Encore Motors, a Florida company owned by Barbara and John Rumpel.

At approximately 2:45 p.m., the Cessna reversed course from its approach to MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma and began flying toward Washington D.C. At 3:20 p.m., the military scrambled two fighter jets after the Cessna entered restricted airspace over Washington D.C. The fighter pilots attempted to communicate with pilot Jeff Hefner, who was observed slumped over and unconscious in the cockpit. Just a few moments later, the plane impacted with terrain in the mountains of St. Mary’s Wilderness near Montebello, Virginia.

Virginia Plane Crash Victims Identified as Aria and Adina Azarian, Evadnie Smith, and Jeff Hefner

Authorities have identified the victims of the plane crash outside Montebello, Virginia as:

Adina Azarian: Azarian was the 49-year-old daughter of Barbara and John Rumpel, a powerful Florida couple known throughout the state for their significant political contributions. Azarian lived in New York, where she worked as a realtor for Keller Williams in the East Hamptons. She and her daughter, Aria, were returning home from a trip to visit her parents in North Carolina.

In a statement, Keller Williams’ New York City branch said of Adina Azarian, “[h]er vibrant personality and unwavering commitment to her clients set her apart in the real estate industry. Adina’s passion for her work and her genuine care for others touched the lives of many, making her an invaluable asset to our team at Keller Williams Points North.”

Aria Azarian: Aria Azarian was Adina Azarian’s two-year-old daughter.

Evadnie Smith: Known fondly as “Nanny V,” Evadnie Smith, 56, was a live-in nanny for the Azarian family. Her son told the media that Evadnie had hopes of retiring and returning home to her native Jamaica.

Jeff Hefner: Hefner was the pilot of the Cessna plane. In his career, he had logged over 25,000 flying miles and previously flew for Southwest Airlines. It has been reported that he was also an aircraft mechanic.

What Caused the Cessna Crash in Virginia?

The cause of the fatal plane crash that killed Aria and Adina Azarian, Evadnie Smith, and Jeff Hefner will likely take a year or more to complete. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is the agency leading the investigation. The agency will issue a preliminary report in the coming weeks detailing new information on the crash. However, we will not know the cause (or causes of the crash until NTSB releases its final report.

Media reports have indicated that NTSB will be focusing on hypoxia as a possible reason why Jeff Hefner and the passengers on board the Cessna did not respond to air traffic controllers and other civilian pilots attempting to communicate with the plane. Hypoxia, a shortage of oxygen in the blood, can happen if the cabin loses pressure or the aircraft reaches too high an altitude. People lose oxygen as altitude increases.

“Hypoxia is a plausible explanation for the pilot losing consciousness, but we need to learn more about the circumstances before we are able to fully understand what happened,” says aviation attorney Timothy A. Loranger. “Investigators will need to look at the history of the aircraft, maintenance records, the pilot’s history, weather conditions, and more before coming to any conclusions. Whatever happened, our hearts are with the families.”

Cessna Plane Crash Lawyers With Proven Track Record

The award-winning plane crash lawyers from Wisner Baum have handled numerous cases involving Cessna planes. Our aviation accident attorneys have represented clients in the following cases involving Cessna planes since 1995:

  • Cessna 177 Plane Crash - Torrance, California (2019)
  • Cessna 401B Plane Crash - Salters, South Carolina (2017)
  • Cessna 421C Plane Crash - Huntsville, Texas (2017)
  • Cessna 206 Plane Crash - Donnelly, Idaho (2013)
  • Cessna 421C Plane Crash - Shaver Lake, California (2012)
  • Cessna 180J Seaplane Crash - Davant, Louisiana (2010)
  • Cessna 310P vs. Cessna 172N Mid-Air Collision - Long Beach, California (2009)
  • Cessna 172 vs. Cessna 150 Mid-Air Collision - Corona, California (2008)
  • Cessna 310 Plane Crash - Compton, California (2008)
  • Cessna 172 Skyhawk Charter Flight Accident - Indiantown, Florida (2008)
  • Cessna 150M Plane Crash - Holly Springs, Mississippi (2000)
  • Cessna 414 Accident - Monarch, Montana (2000)
  • Cessna T210M Plane Crash - Marcola, Oregon (1999)
  • Cessna 404 Accident - Arusha, Tanzania (1999)
  • Cessna T210N Plane Crash - Hillsboro, Oregon (1998)
  • Cessna 172E Skyhawk Plane Crash – Topeka, Kansas (1997)
  • Cessna 402B Accident - Tampa, Florida (1997)
  • Cessna 172 Plane Crash - Eagle River, Alaska (1996)
  • Cessna Super Skywagon 206C Plane Crash - Hartwood Virginia (1996)
  • Cessna 182R vs. Cessna 170A Mid-Air Collision - Proctor, Arkansas (1996)
  • Cessna 152 Accident - Long Beach, California (1995)
  • Cessna 172M Accident - Portland, Maine (1995)
  • Cessna 140 Plane Crash - Blue Mountain, Pennsylvania (1995)

Wisner Baum’s plane crash lawyers are skilled investigators who know what it takes to find the cause (or causes) of a crash. Whether the crash involved maintenance issues, pilot error, air traffic controller negligence, weather, defective parts, manufacturing issues, or any other problem, we leave no stone unturned to find the responsible party (or parties). Once our firm completes our investigation, we vigorously pursue claims against the defendants to maximize compensation for our clients and their families and send a message that any company that fails to keep air travelers safe will be held accountable.

To learn more about your legal rights after a Cessna plane crash, give us a call at (855) 948-5098 or submit an online contact form today to schedule your free consultation.


  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please enter your city.
  • Please enter your state.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.