A prominent high-tech entrepreneur and his wife were killed yesterday when their private plane crashed on the Greek island of Zakinthos.
Local authorities cited poor weather and engine malfunctions as possible causes of the accident that killed Dr. Nahum Sharfman, 61, and his wife Nava.
But Greek media reported that Nava Sharfman was heard requesting help via the airplane's radio shortly before communications were cut off, and therefore speculated that a medical emergency could have contributed to the crash.
The couple took off from the island of Kos in their Cirrus SR22 yesterday, along with another couple in a second airplane. Both planes had to land shortly afterward due to poor weather, but took off again for the island of Corfu later in the day. One plane eventually made it to Athens, but the other disappeared from radar screens in mid-flight.
The Greek authorities located the crashed aircraft by triangulating the location of the couple's cellular phones. Their bodies were discovered nearby. The Israeli consul in Athens, Eli Sena, left for the crash site to assist in transferring the couple's remains to Israel, and the Sharfmans' son flew to Greece along with the Transportation Ministry's chief aerial accidents investigators, Yitzhak Raz.
Sharfman is one of the best-known figures in Israel's high-tech industry. After earning his Ph.D. in nuclear physics at Carnegie Mellon University, he spent 11 years at National Semiconductor in a variety of roles before leaving to establish the Internet security company CommTouch. He then went on to establish the price comparison service Dealtime.com, which later developed into Shopping.com. Shopping.com was bought by eBay for $634 million in 2005. Sharfman was also founding chairman of e-snips.com, an Internet-driven social networking site.
The airplane flown by Sharfman, the Cirrus SR22, is a single-engine composite aircraft that is considered to be one of the most advanced and safest planes of its kind.
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