PROMINENT MAGA donor and devastated father John Rumpel “doesn’t know” if there’s a black box aboard his private jet that crashed over the weekend, killing his daughter and granddaughter, friends say.
Adina Azarian, 49, her two-year-old daughter Aria, and their live-in nanny Evadnie Smith were killed on Sunday when a twin-engine Cessna Citation owned by Rumpel crashed in a rural part of southwest Virginia.
The aircraft was intercepted by two F-16 fighter jets after entering restricted airspace over Washington, D.C. on Sunday afternoon.
It appeared to be flying on autopilot and the pilot was incapacitated, officials said. The jet later crashed into the ground in the Shenandoah Valley, killing all four people on board.
The mysterious cause of the deadly crash is currently being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
John Rumpel, Adina’s adoptive father, theorized that the aircraft may have lost pressurization in the cabin prior to impact, incapacitating all four people on board.
A trained pilot himself, the 75-year-old told The New York Times that, if that was the case, “they all just would have gone to sleep and never woke up.”
Raphael Avigdor, a close friend of Adina’s, told The U.S. Sun that he spoke to Rumpel early on Monday morning and described him as “devastated.”
“He is devastated,” reiterated Avigdor. “He was the owner of the plane and he said he doesn’t know if there was a black box on board because I don’t think private aircraft require it.
“We’re all hopeful of the scenario they all lost consciousness and didn’t have to suffer the end, knowing they were going to crash.
“I’m sure investigators will get to the bottom of what happened.”
Rumpel told The Times that Adina, her daughter, and the family’s nanny were returning home to East Hampton after a four-day visit to his estate in North Carolina when the Cessna crashed “almost straight down at a high speed.”
The velocity of the impact left behind a crater and the wreckage was spread over a distance of 150 yards, he added.
Moments earlier, two F-16s were scrambled from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland after the Cessna entered restricted airspace, prompting the emergency response to intercept the flight.
The Federal Aviation Administration called the pilot but received no response. The military then ordered the jets to intercept, green-lighting them to travel at supersonic speeds, causing a boom in the region.
NORAD said that when the jet was intercepted at about 3.20pm, “the pilot was unresponsive and the Cessna subsequently crashed near the George Washington National Forest.”
[John Rumpel] is devastated. He was the owner of the plane and he said he doesn’t know if there was a black box on board because I don’t think private aircraft require it.
John Rumpel said the plane tumbled out of the sky at a rate of 20,000 feet per minute.
Still trying to get his own mind around the tragedy, Avigdor said he will remember Adina as a “lovely person.”
“She was just such a lovely person and such a lovely daughter and so content with life. This is one of those difficult things to absorb.
“There will just be an empty spot in my heart for a lovely woman who developed to be a very true and dear friend to me.”
Another close friend of Adina’s, Sandy Castillo, tearfully remembered Adina as one of the most ambitious and selfless people she’s ever met.
“We are absolutely devastated,” said Castillo. “We will never forget her. She will be in our hearts forever and her sweet angel daughter, Aria, was a miracle and everything she ever wanted.
“[Before she had Aria] she was instrumental in the upbringing of my daughter.
“I was a single mom and Adina went out of her way to treat my daughter like her own. She was instrumental in her education and she was just the most generous person.
“She was always happy, never a victim, and always persevered through everything with a smile on her face.
“Just a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful human being.”
Also killed in the wreck was Adina’s live-in nanny, Evadnie Smith, otherwise lovingly known as “Nanny V,” who was first identified by The U.S. Sun on Monday evening.
Castillo remembered Nanny V as a “beautiful soul of a woman” who was incredibly close to Adina and her daughter.
“She was such an amazing woman,” said Castillo, fighting back tears.
“She went above and beyond for Aria and Adina and I recently asked Adina, ‘Now that Aria’s in [pre-]school, what will happen to Nanny V?’
“And she told me, ‘Nanny V will always be a part of our family. She will never leave us. She’s with us forever.'”
Smith, who hails from Jamaica, had been working for Adina for the last couple of years, Castillo said.
“I don’t know much beyond that history, except for that she was a Christian, and the most amazing, beautiful soul of a woman.”
Avigdor similarly memorialized Smith as a “lovely woman.”
He said that he first met her two years ago when having lunch with Adina on Long Island.
“We must mention Nanny V,” he said. “She was a lovely woman who was taking such good care of Adina and her baby.
“She was smiling all the time and was just so full of love. She was a hard-working woman and a wonderful caretaker.
“I met her two years ago, and I told her how I was having a hard time finding a carer for my 97-year-old mother in Florida and Evadnie recommended her half-sister, who in turn became my mom’s caretaker.
“She’s very much a part of my family now because she’s there every day. Unfortunately, I had to break the bad news to her that her sister had passed.
A spokesperson for the Virginia State Police Department declined to confirm Smith’s identity on Monday evening pending further investigation.
Adina’s adoptive parents, John and Barbara Rumpel, were the first to confirm that Adina and Aria died in Sunday’s wreck.
The couple – who are gun rights advocates and prominent Donald Trump donors – lost another daughter, Victoria, in 1994 following a scuba diving-related tragedy.
Avigdor revealed to The U.S. Sun that the couple adopted Adina as an adult to fill the void left in their hearts following Victoria’s death.
He said the single mom met the Rumpels while working as an agent at one of the residential buildings they owned in Manhattan several years ago.
“And they became very close,” said Avigdor, “as most people who knew Adina would do because she was a beautiful soul.
“John and Barbara had lost a daughter previously […] they loved and missed their daughter and so they kind of transferred all that love to Adina and she became their daughter.
“They were very much a big part of her life. They are successful people and Adina would fly back and forth quite a bit to see them, especially after she had her daughter.
“I don’t know if the adoption was legalized or not but they were all very close.”
John is the owner of the Florida-based company Encore Motors of Melbourne Inc. and Barbara is a member of the NRA Women’s Leadership Forum.
The couple are also large-scale donors to several conservative political candidates, including Trump and Ron DeSantis.
In 2020, the couple donated $250,000 to the Trump Victory PAC and gave thousands towards DeSantis’ successful Gubernatorial run.
Additionally, Barbara Rumpel has made donations to several other Republican candidates, including Herschel Walker.
The Rumpels have even committed their entire real estate portfolio to the pro-second amendment group.
“We want to leave a legacy that will help preserve this country as we know it and as it is meant to be,” Barbara wrote in a statement on an NRA’s website.
The Rumpel family could not be reached for comment.