Entrepreneur who went to space with William Shatner dies in plane crash

An entrepreneur who went to space last month with “Star Trek” actor William Shatner died in a small plane crash Thursday in New Jersey, authorities said.

Glen de Vries, 49, was one of two people to die when the single-engine plane crashed in Sussex County, according to New Jersey State Police.

The other was Thomas Fischer, 54, who owned Fischer Aviation, a flight school where de Vries had at one point trained as a pilot.

The cause of the crash was not immediately clear, according the Federal Aviation Administration. Nor was it clear who was piloting the plane at the time of the crash.

“The plane, a Cessna 172, had left Essex County Airport in Caldwell, N.J., and was bound for Sussex Airport when it went down in a wooded area of a state park near Lake Kemah in Hampton Township, according to the Federal Aviation Administration,” The New York Times reported. “The crash site is about 12 miles from Sussex Airport.”

De Vries was a founder of the popular clinical research platform Medidata Solutions, which was acquired by Dassault Systèmes for $5.9 billion in 2019, according to CBS News.

“Our thoughts and support go out to Glen’s family,” a Dassault Systèmes spokesperson said in a statement. “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.

“We will truly miss Glen, but his dreams — which we share — live on: we will pursue progress in life sciences & healthcare as passionately as he did.”

In October, de Vries accompanied Shatner, best known for his role as Captain James T. Kirk in “Star Trek,” and two others to space on a highly publicized flight to space with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin company.

“I thought that would be important to me before we went up, and having done it makes me feel twice as much conviction. Maybe a thousand times more conviction. That is something we need to make accessible in an equitable way, to as many people on the planet as possible,” de Vries told KDKA after the flight.

Blue Origin mourned his passing in a tweet:

“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,” the company said.

“His passion for aviation, his charitable work, and his dedication to his craft will long be revered and admired.”