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Families: Couple killed in plane crash off the Hamptons meant so much to so many

Saddened relatives of Jennifer Landrum, 45, and Richard Terbrusch, 53, say they want to know why the plane crashed, killing the pair and the pilot.

Rescuers search the waters off Quogue on Sunday.

Rescuers search the waters off Quogue on Sunday. Photo Credit: James Carbone

The couple were making the best of a long-distance relationship, so they often flew up and down the East Coast to see each other. This time, they flew together.

Jennifer Landrum, 45, and Richard Terbrusch, 53, were the only passengers on a twin-engine plane headed from Connecticut to Charleston, South Carolina, on Saturday morning when it crashed into the Atlantic off the Hamptons.

On Sunday, officials said, two bodies were pulled from the submerged wreckage. On Tuesday, authorities identified the victims as Landrum, a special-education teacher from Augusta, Georgia, and Terbrusch, an attorney from Ridgefield, Connecticut. The pilot of the Piper PA-34, Munidat "Raj" Persaud, of Waterbury, Connecticut, also died in the crash, officials said. 

Since the crash, few details have emerged about the cause. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

The families of Landrum and Terbrusch said they want answers to their questions about why the plane fell from the sky, taking with it the lives of two people who meant so much to so many.

"They had gotten very close, and they cared a lot for each other," said Carol Ann Landrum, 75, of Gibson, Georgia, speaking of the relationship between her daughter and Terbrusch.

She said Jennifer Landrum and Terbrusch had been seeing each other for about six months.

Carol Ann Landrum spoke of her loss through sobs and tears; so did Terbrusch's mother, Rosemarie Terbrusch, 79, of New Milford, Connecticut.

"He was just a wonderful son," she said. "It's difficult."

After spending a week together in Connecticut, the couple had planned to fly to Charleston and then to Columbia, South Carolina, where Jennifer Landrum had a car, her mother said. Next, they'd drive to Augusta to spend time with Jennifer Landrum's two adult children.

Landrum was divorced and taught at a high school in Thomson, Georgia. It takes a "big heart" to teach special education, her mother said.

"She loved the children so good, and they loved her," Carol Ann Landrum said. "They worshipped her."

Jennifer Landrum was "a brave little thing," her mother said. The glue that held the family together, was how Melissa Landrum, 54, described her younger sister. 

"If somebody started to squabble, she'd tell them, 'Don't fuss,' " Melissa Landrum said. "She's the only one who could get away with telling Momma what to do."

Richard Terbrusch brought his son, Grant, 10, to Georgia for a visit, Carol Ann Landrum said. 

"A very, very nice person," was how she described her daughter's boyfriend. She recalled how much Grant loved seeing cows in  the Georgia countryside and going to an amusement park near Atlanta.

With the death of her son, Rosemarie Terbrusch said, she was worried about Grant, her grandson.

"I think it hasn't hit him yet," she said. "He has a birthday Thursday."

For a time, Richard Terbrusch had a pilot's license, his mother said. He liked small planes. She said he graduated from Syracuse University and earned a law degree from Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.

As a young man, he joined the Marine Corps, Rosemarie Terbrusch said. He cooked so well, his mother said, she joked with him that he could make a profession of it.

Fishing was also a passion for him, said his father Walter Terbrusch, 86, and he belonged to a fish and gun club where he enjoyed skeet shooting. 

Both families say they want more information from the agencies investigating the crash.

Rosemarie Terbrusch said she'd heard Persaud had been associated with other small-plane crashes. 

According to FAA records, Persaud owned another Piper PA-34 that crashed May 20 on Bald Mountain in Vermont. The pilot in that crash died from his injuries, according to the National Transportation Safety Board’s website. Two years ago, a student flying a Cessna plane that Persaud owned suffered serious injuries after he crashed in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, according to the NTSB, which cited pilot error.

"I want to know what happened. What happened to my daughter?" Rosemarie Terbrusch asked. "I don't want anybody else to get hurt."


 

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