Buffalo attorney Stephen Barnes, whose personal injury firm was famous for its ubiquitous billboards and catchy jingle that lodged itself in almost every New Yorker’s head, died in an airplane crash on Friday, according to Buffalo News.
Barnes, one of the founding partners of Cellino & Barnes, reportedly owned the Socata TBM 700 aircraft that took off from Manchester, in upstate New York, at 10:18 a.m.
Its original destination was the Buffalo Niagara International Airport but it crashed about 11:45 a.m. in a wooded area near Pembroke, New York.
Genesee County Sheriff William Sheron said the plane was “pretty much disintegrated,” and there was “not much left at all.”
The plane was registered under the Cellino & Barnes law firm’s name. Sources told Buffalo News that Barnes was the pilot and a female relative who was on the flight also died.
The plane crash comes three months after Barnes and Ross Cellino Jr. finalized a split of their personal injury law firm after a bitter legal battle drawn out for three years.
It was a stunning end for the infamous firm that, in its golden years, earned each partner more than $10 million, according to a recent feature by New York magazine—an extraordinary amount for personal injury lawyers.
Barnes was a former officer in the Marine Corps and a Gulf War veteran according to the his firm’s website. He created Cellino & Barnes with Cellino in the '90s, and they were popular for their catch cry of “Don’t wait! Call 8!” and their toll-free phone number (800) 888-8888.