A top Washington D.C.-based attorney who previously worked for the administrations of both former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, as well as the 9/11 Commission, mysteriously died on Friday.
Dana J. Hyde, 55, is believed to have died as a result of severe turbulence that hit a private jet she was flying in on Friday that forced it to make an emergency landing in Connecticut, the Conservative Brief reported.
Federal officials from the FBI, National Transportation Safety Board, and Federal Aviation Administration are now investigating the incident to determine exactly what happened as well as how and why Hyde died.
Rushed to the hospital following emergency landing
NBC News reported that Hyde, who lived in Maryland, was one of five people on board a Bombardier business jet that was flying from New Hampshire to Virginia when it hit severe turbulence and suddenly diverted to make an emergency landing at the airport near Hartford, Connecticut.
She was rushed to a nearby hospital and was there declared dead before her body was turned over to the Connecticut Medical Examiner’s Office to determine her cause of death.
The outlet noted that per the FAA, the private jet was registered to a Kansas City, Missouri-based high-speed internet expansion company known as Conexon, of which Hyde’s husband, Jonathan Chambers, was a top partner. According to a statement from the company, both Chambers and the couple’s son were also on board the flight with Hyde, though neither they nor the jet’s two crew members suffered any injuries from the turbulence.
The NTSB will reportedly analyze the plane’s cockpit voice and data recorders to figure out what, if anything went wrong, and will likely also see if the surviving passengers and crew had been wearing seatbelts — while presumably, Hyde was not — when the plane hit the turbulence.
Possible trim issue to blame
The Associated Press reported that the NTSB has preliminarily suggested that a “reported trim issue” with the business jet may have been the problem, with “trim” being the term to reference the adjustable portions of the wing and tail that help keep a plane level and stabilized while in flight.
This particular jet, the Canadian-manufactured Bombardier BD-100-1A10, has had issues with its trim characteristics in the past, including a problem with the horizontal stabilizer that made the planes dive instead of climb, which prompted the FAA to issue a special directive in 2022 for pilots and crew of the craft to conduct expanded pre-flight checks and revise certain cockpit procedures.
Bombardier itself refused to comment on this particular incident, likely due to the ongoing investigation, but did extend its “deepest sympathies” to those involved and maintained that “We stand behind our aircraft, which are designed to be robust and reliable in accordance with Transport Canada and all international airworthiness standards.”
Injuries from turbulence uncommon but not unheard of
As for Hyde, the AP noted that the Connecticut Medical Examiner’s Office reported that she perished due to “blunt-force injuries.”
That is not entirely inconceivable, as an NPR report on the dangers of turbulence pointed out that the FAA’s definition of “serious injuries” caused by turbulence includes things like “fractured bones, severe muscle or tendon damage, harm to internal organs or second- or third-degree burns.”
Those are usually the result of passengers and crew not wearing seatbelts and either being tossed around the cabin and slammed into the seats or hit by other objects, such as luggage falling from overhead bins or runaway carts in the aisle, while the aircraft is being buffeted.
Turbulence itself is little more than areas of irregular air movements in the atmosphere that can cause “erratic changes” in an aircraft’s altitude and angle, though it is rarely severe. Injuries and death from turbulence are even rarer, as out of the millions of passengers who flew annually between 2009-2021, per the FAA, only 30 passengers and 116 crew members suffered serious injuries related to turbulence.