Friends and family of the Scarsdale, New York, family of five who were killed in a plane crash while on vacation in Costa Rica on Sunday are speaking out about their tragic loss.
Bruce and Irene Steinberg and their three sons — William, Zachary and Matthew — were on a single-engine plane traveling with seven other passengers to the country’s capital of San José to celebrate New Year’s when the plane went down, killing everyone on board.
In the weeks leading up to the trip, the couple told friends and family how excited they were to take their sons on this adventure, according to The New York Times.
Bruce’s sister, Tamara Steinberg Jacobson, took to Facebook on Sunday to express the family’s grief and thank supporters.
“For those reaching out to us who have heard about my brother and sister-in -law and my 3 amazing nephew, we are in utter shock and disbelief right now,” she wrote. “Those reaching out to my Mom and Dad it is very special thank you.”
On Monday, she shared one of the last photos taken with the entire family as they gathered in Miami before their trip to Central America to celebrate their father’s 80th birthday, Bruce’s 50th, Zachary’s 20th and Matthew’s 14th.
Lyn Kaller, a close friend of the family, told The New York Times that the couple enjoyed exposing their sons to different cultures and took them on a trip to Asia last year. Matthew was an eighth-grader at the Fieldston School in New York City, William attended the University of Pennsylvania and Zachary was at Johns Hopkins University.
“Irene and Bruce felt very strongly about providing that kind of culture and enrichment for their children,” she said.
The University of Pennsylvania paid tribute to William — who was part of the class of 2021 — in a statement on Facebook.
“We are very shocked and saddened to hear about the death of William Steinberg and his family,” the statement reads. “We still cannot believe that they died so unexpectedly. Many of us knew Will very closely, he was such a wonderful person who blessed Penn with his amazing smile every day. Together we mourn the death of a friend, a peer, and a promising scholar who would have went on to change the world.”
Longtime family friend, Robin Shainber, told ABC that Bruce and Irene’s relationship “was so beautiful.”
“It was an adventure and they passed on that love of art and love of travel and love of family to their children,” she said on Monday.
“For those of us who knew the family, who loved them, you can’t imagine what a loss this is for us. The only comfort from talking to my other friends is was that they were all together and they will be together — they’ll be together forever,” she added.
Thomas Hagerman, the superintendent of the Scarsdale Public School District, said Irene Steinberg, who was the chair of the college and career center, was “actively involved in giving her time to the district.”
“This tragedy is hard to process for a variety of reasons, not least among them the loss of an entire family in one instant,” he wrote in an email to the school district community, ABC reports. “The Steinbergs’ recent graduation dates and rich involvement in the district created a variety of connections which intensify the grief we feel.”
The Weiss family of Belleair, Florida, also died in the crash, according to multiple reports.
Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera released a statement about the crash on Facebook late Sunday.
“I am in solidarity, on behalf of the people and government of Costa Rica, with the families of those who died in today’s tragic air crash,” he wrote. “To them, who lost their loved ones, peace and resignation in this hour of deep pain.