Sabato scorso ha perso la vita in un incidente aereo col suo jet privato il cardiologo di fama mondiale e originario di S. Bartolomeo in Galdo Dott. Antonio Pacifico di 55 anni, residente a Houston. La moglie, la Dott.ssa Valentina Ugolini ha dato conferma che la persona deceduta nellâincidente aereo Ã¨ il marito.
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Cardiologist was 1 of 2 killed in Hobby crash
The jet’s pilot had been told to hurriedly clear the runway for other flight in distress
The wife of Houston cardiologist Antonio Pacifico on Sunday confirmed that he was one of the two men killed Saturday in the Hobby Airport crash of the jet he owned. Dr. Valentina Ugolini, a physician who practiced with her husband, declined to comment further. The couple lived in River Oaks.
The identity of the other man on the plane, its pilot, was not available. The Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office said the names of both victims would be made public today.
The 33-year-old jet, which could seat up to nine passengers, is at the center of a lawsuit pending in the 125th state District Court in Harris County.
“The maintenance of that aircraft was a key subject of the litigation,” Ben Harvie, Pacifico’s attorney, said late Saturday. “There are other financial issues in the lawsuit.”
Pacifico, 55, a clinical associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine, was best known as the cardiologist of ex-Houston Rocket Hakeem Olajuwon and former Houston Oiler Haywood Jeffires. Pacifico treated both athletes for irregular heartbeats.
In 2003, Pacifico led a group of investors that bought the shuttered 50-story Enron building downtown for $55.5 million after the energy giant’s collapse.
Pacifico also was involved in several real estate deals with Olajuwon. He was a key investor in several other major downtown real-estate purchases.
After the Enron building purchase, Pacifico bought several parcels of land downtown in the summer of 2003. He purchased a full block and parts of three other blocks on the eastern side of downtown from Fort Worth-based Crescent Real Estate Equities. Both parcels are close to the Toyota Center.
About a year later, Pacifico headed an investment group that made another major downtown real estate purchase. Two vacant lots on the eastern edge of downtown were sold by Crescent.
Although there was a confidentiality agreement in that sale, Pacifico was widely rumored to be the major investor in a full block of land near the Four Seasons Hotel. That transaction also included most of a block bounded by La Branch, Polk, Austin and Dallas.
A native of Italy, Pacifico received his medical degree from the University of Rome, where he graduated summa cum laude in 1976. He held fellowships at Southwestern Medical School in Dallas and at the University of California before moving to Houston in 1986. He served as president of the Houston Cardiology Society in 1997-98.
Only one of his partners could be reached Sunday, and the doctor declined to comment on Pacifico’s death.
The twin-engine Cessna Citation 500 crashed at 9:58 a.m. Saturday on the Hobby Airport runway, a few minutes after a hurried takeoff. The jet was told to take off to clear the runway for a Southwest Airlines 737 plane returning to the airport. The Southwest pilot had declared an emergency because of an indicator light showing high fuel temperatures.
Federal Aviation Administration records show the Citation was registered to a business owned by Pacifico’s Texas Arrhythmia Institute in the Texas Medical Center. Pacifico also was a practicing physician in Willowbrook Cardiovascular Associates in northwest Houston.
Representatives of the National Transportation Safety Board were at the scene of the crash Sunday, continuing their investigation.
NTSB spokeswoman Lauren Peduzzi said investigators arrived in Houston late Saturday to begin what could be a yearlong investigation of the crash.
“Our investigator arrived on the scene after 4 p.m., so he had only about an hour of daylight left,” Peduzzi said. “Most of the work he will need to do in the immediate future is examine the wreckage. I am sure that is what he is doing today. He will examine the wreckage, draw diagrams and interview any eyewitnesses to the crash. Incidentally, he will be drawing upon the maintenance records of the plane.”
Peduzzi said that, according NTSB information, the jet was headed to Corpus Christi before it crashed. Roland Herwig, an FAA spokesman, said the plane was on a “maintenance test flight.”
The Southwest flight took off from Hobby for Las Vegas at 9:20 a.m. About 60 miles into the flight, the pilot declared an emergency because of a high fuel temperature indicator light, Southwest spokeswoman Paula Berg said.
Because of that emergency, air traffic controllers instructed the Cessna pilot to take off quickly, Houston Fire Department Assistant Chief Tommy Dowdy said. Moments after takeoff, however, the jet pilot asked for permission to return to the airport, he said.
Witness noticed wobble
Upon receiving the tower’s OK, the pilot attempted to land the jet, but it nosedived into the runway, burst into flames, flipped and skidded nearly 300 feet, Dowdy said. Both men on the plane died at the scene, Dowdy said.
A witness told authorities that when the Cessna was in the air, it appeared to wobble to one side, which could indicate an engine had gone out.
The Southwest flight was diverted to George Bush Intercontinental Airport and its problem turned out to be a faulty indicator light.
Raytheon Aircraft Services provided hangar services for the Cessna but did not maintain the craft, said Raytheon spokeswoman Jackie Berger. According to workers at several private aircraft hangars near Hobby Airport, the pilot of the jet was also a mechanic. The crash marks the second such incident involving a private aircraft at Hobby since June 20, when a Cessna 401 landed short of the runway after clipping a street sign and two pickups on Telephone Road. The pilot was not seriously injured. Last year, the three-member crew of a Gulfstream III was killed on approach at Hobby while attempting to land in bad weather.
By ANNE MARIE KILDAY
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle