Oil Firm Boss Dies When Plane Hits Snowplow

Moscow: Snowplow driver involved in Total CEO death was drunk
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 21, 2014 2:24 AM CDT
Plane-Snowplow Crash Kills Oil Firm Boss
Total SA Chairman and CEO Christophe de Margerie speaks at the IHS CERAWeek energy conference in Houston earlier this year.   (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

The head of French oil giant Total SA was killed at a Moscow airport last night when his corporate jet collided with a snowplow whose driver was drunk, Russian investigators say. Total confirmed "with deep regret and sadness" that Chairman and CEO Christophe de Margerie died in the crash at Moscow's Vnukovo airport. Airport officials say the collision occurred just before midnight, killing de Margerie and three crew members, all of them French citizens. The snowplow driver was not hurt.

The French-made Dassault Falcon 50 business jet, headed for France, collided with the snow removal machine during takeoff and burst into flames, investigators say. Visibility at the time of the crash was 1,150 feet, according to airport officials. Investigators are questioning the driver as well as air traffic controllers and witnesses to the crash. De Margerie, 63, known as "Mr. Moustache" for his bushy facial hair, rose through the ranks at Total—the fifth-biggest publicly traded oil firm in the world—to become CEO in 2007. Russian President Vladimir Putin extended his condolences in a telegram sent to French President Francois Hollande, who expressed his "stupor and sadness" at the news. (More Total SA stories.)

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