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Steve Barnes of Cellino & Barnes and his niece die in Corfu plane crash

Posted at 4:27 PM, Oct 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-03 00:17:38-04

CORFU, N.Y. (WKBW) — 7 Eyewitness News can confirm that Steve Barnes was the pilot of a small plane that crashed and killed both on board in the Village of Corfu Friday morning.

In a statement, Barnes' law partner Ross Cellino confirmed his death saying "It is with great sadness that I learned of the tragic passing of Steve Barnes in a plane crash. Steve and I worked together for many years at our firm. He was always a fearless advocate for his clients. His passing is a significant loss for the legal community."

According to Cellino, Barnes is survived by his three children and longtime partner who is an attorney at the firm.

Cellino also confirmed that the second person who died in the plane crash was Elizabeth Barnes, Steve Barnes' niece. Elizabeth's father is an attorney at Cellino and Barnes.

The Barnes Firm issued the following statement Friday night:

"It is with the heaviest of hearts that we acknowledge the loss of Steve Barnes and his niece
Elizabeth Barnes following a tragic accident earlier today.

Steve was a friend, colleague, partner, and mentor to so many people across our firm, in New
York, California, and beyond. He was a legal industry giant, proud Marine, and loving father.

Steve and Elizabeth will be sorely missed by many.

Our utmost condolences go out to his family and closest loved ones during this very difficult
and unfortunate time."

7 Eyewitness News has confirmed Barnes was a licensed pilot since 2010. The plane involved in the crash was purchased in 2016 and registered through August 2022 with the owner “N965DM LLC.” The LLC’s listed address is the same address as the Cellino & Barnes law firm's headquarters on Main Street in Buffalo.

The single-engine Socata TBM-700 was flying from Manchester, New Hampshire to Buffalo when the plane crashed around 11:45 a.m.

According to FlightAware data, the plane had completed the reverse flight Friday morning, taking off from the Buffalo Niagara International Airport at 7:45 a.m. and landing at 9:15 a.m. in New Hampshire. The flight data for the trip back to Buffalo shows the plane suddenly veering north over Genesee County and losing altitude.

First responders gathered at a wooded area off Boyce Road in Corfu, west of Batavia. Investigators say the plane left a crater at the point of impact, and had disintegrated.

The FAA is investigating, and the cause of the crash has not yet been determined.

In June, Barnes and Ross Cellino announced they would officially split into two firms, Cellino Law and The Barnes Firm. Prior to the announcement, the Cellino & Barnes law firm had operated their successful personal injury firm for almost three decades.

Barnes was planning to make a “major announcement” on October 12th, 7 Eyewitness News had an interview scheduled with the attorney on Friday, October 9 regarding the announcement.

Barnes was a former officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and a veteran of the Gulf War.