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Ex-political aide’s cause of death revealed after severe flight turbulence

The cause of death of a woman who died after the private plane she was travelling on experienced severe turbulence earlier this month has been revealed.

Former White House official Dana Hyde, 55, died of blunt injuries to her neck, head, body, and extremities, the medical examiner has said, according to NECN.

She was flying with two crew members and three passengers on a Conexon-owned jet from Keene, New Hampshire to Leesburg, Virginia on 3 March when the plane encountered turbulence and was forced to make an emergency landing outside of Hartford, Connecticut.

She was taken to Saint Francis Medical Center in Hartford, where she was pronounced dead.

Ms Hyde trained as a lawyer and had a decorated career in public service in Washington, DC.

She served for eight years in the Obama administration, holding posts in the Office of Management and Budget and State Department and later serving as CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

Ms Hydge also served as Special Assistant to the Deputy Attorney General during Bill Clinton’s tenure as president and also worked as counsel to the 9/11 Commission.

Dana Hyde speaks during the 30th Annual Awards Gala hosted by The Africa-America Institute at Gotham Hall on September 22, 2014 (Thos Robinson/Getty Images for The African-American Institute)
Dana Hyde speaks during the 30th Annual Awards Gala hosted by The Africa-America Institute at Gotham Hall on September 22, 2014 (Thos Robinson/Getty Images for The African-American Institute)

Since leaving the White House, Ms Hyde worked as a consultant and served for two years as the co-chair of the Aspen Institute’s Partnership for an Inclusive Economy.

“During her time with us, Dana was a brilliant and generous colleague who worked closely with programs across the organization to build partnerships and enhance our collective work,” Jon Purves, a spokesman for the Institute, said in a statement reported by NBC News. “The thoughts of our entire Aspen Institute community are with Dana’s family and loved ones.”

A Conexon spokesperson confirmed to the news organisation that Ms Hyde was married to Conexon partner Jonathan Chambers. Conexon is an internet service provider that provides high-speed internet service to rural communities.

Ms Hyde was flying with her husband and son on the jet owned by his company at the time of the incident. They had been visiting schools in New England, according to Jewish Insider.

Dana Hyde, CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, shakes hands with Ghana finance minister Seth Terkper as Ghana President John Dramani Mahama, left, and US Secretary of State John Kerry look on, during the signing the Ghana Compact at the State Department on 6 August 6, 2014 (AFP via Getty Images)
Dana Hyde, CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, shakes hands with Ghana finance minister Seth Terkper as Ghana President John Dramani Mahama, left, and US Secretary of State John Kerry look on, during the signing the Ghana Compact at the State Department on 6 August 6, 2014 (AFP via Getty Images)

While mild turbulence is relatively common in air travel, severe turbulence can have serious effects. Earlier this year, seven passengers on a Lufthansa flight from Austin to Frankfurt were hospitalised with minor injuries after turbulence that forced the flight to make an unscheduled landing in Virginia.

According to the NTSB, turbulence was responsible for more than a third of the accidents on commercial airlines between 2009 and 2018.

The NTSB has said that Ms Hyde’s flight may have experienced issues with its stability. The agency said in a statement that they’re reviewing a “reported trim issue” – meaning the plane’s control features working to keep it stable in the air. The NTSB will later release a preliminary report on the incident.

Ms Hyde moved to Washington, DC in 1989 after graduating from the University of California Los Angeles.

Ester Kurz hired Ms Hyde for her first internship at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

“Even at that young age and with no work experience, she was just an extraordinarily brilliant, capable, committed person who had all the right values,” she told Jewish Insider.

“In all the many jobs she had in Washington, and she had many, she was always driven by the desire to help others,” she added.

Ms Hyde had grown up in Oregon before moving to California for her education and later joining the Clinton campaign.

“She was so effective and such a valuable member of anybody’s team, and that really came across today at the memorial service,” Ms Kurz said.

“Dana was the best person I ever knew. She was a wonderful mother to our boys and she was accomplished professionally,” her husband wrote in an email to co-workers. “She loved and was beloved.”

Her funeral was held on 8 March at Temple Micah, a synagogue in northwest Washington, DC. It was attended by more than 200 people, including National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. She was buried in Israel last week, according to Jewish Insider.