Georgetown surgeon, his wife are killed in small plane crash near Chicago

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comSeptember 26, 2013 

A Georgetown surgeon and his wife died after a small plane that left Scott County crashed into a bank parking lot in Bolingbrook, Ill., on Wednesday, a Georgetown Community Hospital official said.

Assistant administrator Cindy Wesley identified the pilot as Narayan Venguswamy, also known as Dr. Vengu, and his wife, Jay Venguswamy. The couple were traveling to a medical conference in Chicago, Wesley said.

Dr. Vengu was a member of the Georgetown hospital medical staff for 27 years, Wesley said in a statement.

"He was an extraordinary physician and outstanding surgeon who was passionate about the practice of medicine; he was an integral member of the Georgetown medical staff," Wesley said. "Dr. Vengu was well respected and beloved, particularly by his staff, his patients and his colleagues."

Witnesses said Venguswamy was engulfed in flames when he escaped a Cirrus SR-22 single-engine plane, and he asked people to help his wife, who died at the scene, Chicago television station WBBM-TV reported on its website. The Federal Aviation Administration website said the plane was a Cirrus SR-20.

Venguswamy was taken to Loyola University Medical Center, where he died Thursday.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Venguswamy, 63, was trying to land at Bolingbrook's Clow International Airport.

Before the plane came to rest in the parking lot, it crashed into a tree, a light pole and three vehicles near the bank, the newspaper reported.

The Tribune reported that the plane burst into flames as Venguswamy staggered away from the wreckage, according to witnesses. "We kept telling him to roll," the newspaper quoted Mike Grohar, 30, as saying. "He kept asking to get his wife out."

Several people used a sweatshirt and water carried from the bank to try to put out the flames consuming Venguswamy, Grohar told the newspaper.

The plane was registered to GDK International LLC in Georgetown, and it took off at 4:08 p.m. Wednesday from Scott County Marshall Field in Georgetown, according to James Toole, the airport manager in Georgetown.

GDK's website said the Georgetown company sells hospitality and hospital supplies. The website listed Jay Vengu as a managing partner. Other company officials could not be reached for comment.

Wesley, the hospital official, said Jay Venguswamy worked in the family's private business and had previously worked at a medical office.

"She loved photography," Wesley said.

Wesley said the Venguswamys, who had adult children, were involved in many community efforts in Georgetown.

"Just wonderful people," Wesley said. "They were family focused."

The Federal Aviation Administration's public affairs office said in a recorded message on its telephone line Thursday that the agency was investigating, but it referred specific questions to the National Transportation Safety Board.

NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said an investigator would start an initial inquiry Thursday afternoon, "collecting facts and information" and examining the wreckage.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: (859) 231-3409. Twitter: @vhspears.

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