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Family With Ties to Montgomery County, University of Penn Student Among Victims of Costa Rica Plane Crash

The plane was carrying the two families and local crewmembers when it crashed in a wooded area, killing everyone on board, authorities said.

A family with ties to Montgomery County and a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania were among the 12 people killed during a plane crash in Costa Rica over the weekend.

Rabbi Jacob Luski of Congregation B'nai Israel in St. Petersburg, Florida identified four of the victims as Dr. Mitchell Weiss, Dr. Leslie Weiss and their two children Hannah and Ari. They were all members of his congregation.

"It is a tragedy that the Drs. Mitchell Weiss and Leslie Weiss and their two children, Hannah and Ari, died in that terrible crash," Rabbi Luski said. "They were a wonderful family who will be missed." 

Dr. Mitchell Weiss and Dr. Leslie Weiss both have roots in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, a relative told NBC10. Their daughter Hannah Weiss was a sophomore in List College's Joint Program with Columbia University, according to a statement from the school.

A family member told NBC10 over the phone they are still trying to register the loss.

Eight other people were killed in the crash, including 18-year-old William Steinberg, his two brothers Matthew and Zachary, and their parents Bruce and Irene Steinberg. William Steinberg had just started at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall. It's believed the five were on a sightseeing tour at the time. 

"We are very shocked and saddened to hear about the death of William Steinberg and his family. We still cannot believe that they died so unexpectedly. Many of us knew Will very closely, he was such a wonderful person who blessed Penn with his amazing smile everyday," read a posting on the UPenn student body government Facebook page.

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Ministerio de Seguridad Publica
The plane crashed in a wooded area in northwest Costa Rica.

Rabbi Jonathan Blake of the Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale said in a statement that the Steinbergs were involved in philanthropy and local Jewish groups.

"This tragedy hits our community very hard," Blake wrote.

The plane was carrying the two families and local crewmembers when it crashed in a wooded area, killing everyone on board, authorities said. 

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Bruce and Irene Steinberg, and their teenage sons, Matthew, William and Zachary, were killed.

At a news conference, Enio Cubillo, director of Costa Rica Civil Aviation, said the Nature Air charter flight took off just after noon Sunday from Punta Islita and was headed for the capital of San Jose when it crashed.

Cubillo said the cause was under investigation.

He identified the pilot as Juan Manuel Retana and described him as very experienced. Former Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla said via Twitter that Retana was her cousin.

The same plane had arrived in Punta Islita on Sunday morning from San Jose and was delayed in landing by strong winds, Cubillo said.

Nature Air did not respond to phone and email messages.

The Public Safety Ministry posted photographs and video of the crash site showing burning wreckage of the plane in Guanacaste, in northwest Costa Rica.

The Costa Rican government will launch an investigation into the cause of the crash starting Monday. 

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